Fat – The (very) Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Danielle is the owner of FilledPlate.com, an online platform geared towards busy professionals to help them achieve success by filling their plates with nutrient-dense meals and consistent activity. Coming from the corporate world, she understands the role of nutrition in fueling everyday life and is a true believer in the power of whole foods to treat and prevent disease. She is a certified personal trainer and studying to be a Nutritional Therapy Consultant.
By Danielle Tyson
If you are still trying to survive on a low-fat diet and having trouble losing or maintaining weight or are often tired or sick, you are not alone. The medical community and big food industries have based their low-fat diet recommendations on poorly conducted studies and the effects are widespread and hard to argue.
In 1958, .93 percent of the population was diagnosed with diabetes; today, that number is close to 9 percent (www.cdc.org). In addition, one out of six children is now considered obese. Clearly, low-fat diet recommendations have not resulted in a healthier population.
The problem with a low-fat diet is that by taking away fat, you must replace it with something else, typically to make food taste good. Enter sugar. As a society, our addiction to sugar is unmatched. And it seems like every day I read nutrition labels, even those for “healthy food,” that contain some new form of sugar snuck in between seemingly healthy ingredients. We could discuss sugar and its negative effects all day, but let’s stay on the topic of fat.
Fats compose about 15 percent of our body weight and contrary to popular belief, animal and vegetable sources of fat provide a concentrated source of energy (that’s right–carbs aren’t the only energy source!) Fats also act as building blocks for our cells, aid in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K and let’s face it, they make food taste great!
Generally, 30 percent of a person’s diet should come from fat (the other 30 percent is protein and 40 percent is carbohydrates). Of course, this can change from person to person, but is a good starting point.
However, it’s important that we recognize the different types of fat, including which ones to avoid, and how to use different fats in cooking.
Good Fats First
For optimal health, your diet should include a 1:1 ratio of Omega-6s to Omega-3s (polyunsaturated fats), which should make up about 10 percent of your diet. Good sources of Omega-6s include sesame oil, sunflower oil and peanut oil, but these oils should be kept in dark bottles and should NOT be used in cooking as they will go rancid and can cause inflammation in the body. Good sources of Omega-3s include fish oil, flax seed oil, walnut and hemp oil, as well as wild caught salmon. You can also find excellent supplement forms of Omega-3s in the cold vitamin section of Whole Foods in Wexford.
Your diet should also include 30 percent saturated fats (coconut oil, animal fats from pastured and organic animals, eggs and butter) and 60 percent monounsaturated fats (avocados, extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil).
What to Avoid
We’ve all heard the phrase “trans fats” but do you know what they really are? Without getting too technical, trans fats are a by-product of the hydrogenation process. Hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Think Crisco. They are also referred to as “partially hydrogenated oils.” You want to avoid these like the plague as these types of fats will disrupt hormone regulation and cause cells to become toxic.
Canola oil (made from the seeds of the rapeseed plant) has gained popularity because it is “low in saturated fat” and because of its delicate flavor is often used in sautéing. However, there are a few problems with this oil. Almost 90 percent of canola oil is genetically modified and canola oil is often partially hydrogenated to increase stability, making it toxic for the body. In addition, the way that canola oil is processed includes bleaching, degumming and refining at high heat, which can cause it to become rancid before it even hits the clear plastic bottle in which it is packaged (another problem). To read more about the effects of canola oil on the body, visit https://draxe.com/canola-oil-gm.
The bottom line when it comes to fat is to not be afraid to enjoy the many healthy varieties found in nature and in properly raised animals. If you’re not familiar with an oil or fat being used in something you found at the grocery store, or in the nutrition facts at your favorite restaurant, do some research. You will be hard-pressed to find restaurants that cook with ONLY olive oil and coconut oil, so when you do choose to dine out, aim for grilled meats and order salads with olive oil and vinegar and a lemon.
For anyone who is interested in understanding what we as humans are designed to eat, including more information on fats, sugars, meat, dairy etc., pick up a copy of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It’s a staple in our house and contains a plethora of healthy recipes as well.
Disclaimer: The information in this forum is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure disease and is written for informational purposes only. Content should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.