Some types of fats are GOOD for you! That’s right, some fats offer many nutritional benefits, make you feel fuller and can even make you lose weight by boosting metabolism. For example, Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat- soluble, meaning you need fats to allow them to absorb. Pro Tip ~ Ditch the fat free salad dressing and have an olive oil based dressing on a salad will help absorb all those veggie nutrients!
Let’s start with why some fats are better for you than others. Eating the right fats can boost metabolism, burn body fat, improve your HDL and studies have shown can reduce your risk of heart disease diabetes and obesity. How can this be when many of us were raised to believe fat is the ultimate evil? In a nutshell, for decades Americans replaced animal fats like butter and lard with industrially produced hydrogenated vegetable oils known as trans fats and you know what (Source: Food by Mark Hyman)? The numbers of heart disease and heart attacks rose dramatically. Trans fats were used to lower cost of making food and give processed foods a longer shelf life. Now we have learned that naturally occurring fats in our whole foods aren’t the problem is the refined, processed fats and oils added to our food.
Fats and Oils best to avoid:
- Soybean oil
- Canola oil
- Corn oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Palm oil (also, environmental impact here!)
- Peanut oil
- Vegetable oil
- Vegetable shortening (trans fats here)
- Margarine and other butter substitutes
- Anything that says “hydrogenated”
WHICH OILS ARE THE BEST and WHY!
Best oils and fats to use and consume have a lot to do with polyunsaturated fats like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. It’s all about keeping these two in a healthy balance. Omega-3s are the better of the two (not that 6s are the enemy, it’s not that simple) and are said to have anti-inflammatory properties. You need both of these, but better fats have a higher ration of Omega-3 than Omega-6. High Omega-3s reduce inflammation, promote cardiovascular health, protect your brain and help prevent chronic diseases like metabolic syndrome. When you consume Omega-6s its best to consume them as whole foods like whole grains and beans.
Now let’s talk about what to stock our kitchen with and look for in our foods:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – This is not earth shattering information. For over a decade we have learned that the Mediterranean Diet using olive oil has high quality Omega-3s and adds delicious flavors to most foods. If possible, find a cold pressed Olive oil. When oils are processed with high heats and filtration, it can actually make the oils less nutritious. Brands to look for:
- California Olive Ranch – Widely available at grocery stores and online
- Kirkland Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Top pick and really great price. This is one of the few Olive Oils in the US that passes all inspections and is 100% Olive Oil. In fact, top chefs highly recommend this brand
- Terra Delyssa olive oil – Available in some stores like Walmart and Amazon
- Grass Fed Butter – Yes. Butter. The check here is to find butter that is actually grass-fed which will be higher in Omega-3s (again, lowers inflammation). During the decades long battle for cutting fat, there were many fake butters marketed to us that have cruddy oil blends that actually did us more harm than good. Best Brands:
- Kerry Gold Butter – Widely available, the standard in my house!
- Vital Farms – Grass Fed, pasture raised, so good but can be hard to find and expensive. Thumbs up if you can afford and find it 😊
- Coconut Oil – Coconut oil has a unique saturated fat called MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) which boost metabolism, stabilize insulin resistance, improves the quality and size of cholesterol and improves cognitive function.
- With the rise in popularity of CO, Fair Trade USA has reported that coconut farmers are among the most exploited and lowest paid farmers in the world. While we may pay high prices for the oil, the farmers get very little. Look for Certified Coconut Oil that denotes responsible farming and trade practices.
- High Smoke point at 350 degrees, I use this for stir fry meals!
- Best Brands:
- Nutiva Coconut Oil
- Thrive Market brand
- Organic avocado oil – Costco has a great product and good price. This is nice to use for dressings.
- Grass-fed ghee (clarified butter) – It most grocery stores and awesome to use in the pan for eggs and stir fry. It has a high heat point and can be used for searing. Ghee has the water and milk solids removed so those who are allergic to dairy can use this.
- Walnut, almond, macadamia, sesame seed, tahini, flax and hemp.
Smoke points with oils: Heat can change the fatty acid profile in cooking oils. Every oil has a smoke point, above which the oil starts to burn. This affects the flavor and the nutrient profile, and creates free radicals, which can damage healthy cells and lead to inflammation. So, no matter which oil you choose, when trying to combat inflammation, don’t heat the oil past its smoke point:
- Safflower: 510°F
- Refined olive: 460°F
- Soy: 460°F
- Corn: 450°F
- Peanut: 450°F
- Sunflower: 440°F
- Cottonseed: 420°F
- Canola: 400°F
- Avocado: 400°F
- Grapeseed: 390°F
- Coconut: 350°F
- Cold pressed extra virgin olive: 350°F
- Hemp: 330°F
- Walnut: 320°F
- Flaxseed: 225°F
While it is useful to trade out healthier fats to cook with, be sure to notice what your chips, protein bars and any processed foods are cooked in. Good luck this week, I am proud of each and every one of you!!!