Prepared by Barbara Doan

Fats...the good, the bad and the ugly

Fats make our food taste oh so good, but they have been made out to be the bad guy in our diet.  Your grandmother likely used full-fat cream and real butter in everything.  Suddenly in the ‘80’s, fat was the “villain”.  

 

Fat was being blamed for people gaining weight and the rise of type 2 diabetes.   As a result, Big Food started to make everything “Fat-free” or “low-fat” – yogurt, milk and anything else they could reformulate and slap a label lost their fat (and richness) and gained a great deal of sugar.  Why?  Because without the fat, they just weren’t going to taste good and no one would buy them.

 

Fast-forward to today and researchers are finally starting to realize that fat was not the real demon it was made out to be.  The real story is starting to come out – sugar, is at the root of many of our health problems.  Sugar is messing with our metabolism, our guts and our brains.  Its time to show fat some love again.  Besides cushioning our organs, and transporting the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) our brains are about 60% fat and fat also makes some of our very important hormones   Perhaps we are seeing a rise in depression and hormonal imbalances because we haven’t been eating enough fat!  

 

But with all the different fats on the market, navigating the grocery store can be a bit daunting. 

 

Let me give you some help!

 

The Ugly:

Anything that is hydrogenated.  Hydrogenation is what the food industry does to fats.  They take an unsaturated fat and through a chemical reaction force it to become a saturated fat, which is stable at room temperature but in the process, they create a trans configuration.  Trans fats are banned in Canada!

 

The most common foods that contain hydrogenated oils are margarine, coffee creamers (dairy & non-dairy), vegetable shortening, store-bought baked goods and fried foods.

 

These types of fats should be avoided at all costs.

 

The Bad:

Omega 6 & Omega 3 Fatty Acids (linoleic & linolenic, respectively) are what we call Essential Fatty Acids.  We must get these from our food.  All other fatty acids in the body can be made from these 2 fatty acids.  It is important to try to keep the ratio of these two fatty acids in check.  The ratio should be roughly 3:1 (omega 6: omega 3).  Unfortunately, the consumption of Omega 6’s has increased, and the ratio is now about 40-50:1.  This is what is creating the rise of systemic inflammation! 

 

Our focus should be to consume more Omega 3 fatty acids which are found in fish, walnuts, chia seeds and eggs while decreasing the amount corn, safflower, canola and sunflower oils, all of which contain high amounts of Omega 6 fatty acids.

 

 

The Good:

There are many fats that are good for us:  avocadoes, ghee, grass-fed butter and coconut oil, just to name a few.  I encourage you to add these back into your diet and use them liberally; they will keep you feeling full and happy!

 

 For cooking, it is best to choose saturated fats as they are more stable.  If you are cooking with high heat, choose coconut oil, grass-fed butter or ghee as they have a high smoke point.  For low heat cooking, a good quality olive oil is great and if you are making a salad dressing or pesto, olive oil or flax oil are great choices.  

 

I love using coconut oil.  I use it for almost all my cooking and baking.  I have also recently started using it to wash my face – it is a great make-up remover, it makes my skin feel incredibly soft and it works wonders on acne.  Here is a great article on using coconut oil as skin-care

 

I hope you have found this helpful.  Don’t fear fat, it is a very important part of your diet!

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