I have a bit of a love-affair happening right now, and it’s about time I came out publicly with my love.
And since my work is all about food, it only seems appropriate that heart sings for a certain lovely macronutrient that is (finally) starting to hold it’s proper place on our plate.
It’s fat. Fat, fat, glorious, wonderful, fat.
We’ve come so far since the 1980s anti-fat fads. Those low-fat cookies promoted as “healthy”. “Heart healthy” meal-plans that were dry and tasteless.
But we’re still dealing with the health issues that came out of this incorrect idea - obesity and diabetes have skyrocketed! And collectively, we’re still a bit wary with eating this glorious macronutrient.
There’s more than a bit of politics going on in the food industry. Foods are fashionable and food products are created to match with whatever is currently trendy. And devoid of whatever has been vilified.
Let’s first look at the 1980s – carbs were king and fat was the villain. So the food industry gave us high sugar/carb foods that screamed “0% fat”. By the early 2000s we started to see the error of our ways and the trend began to shift.
Now protein is king and carbs are the villain. Is this any better? Any healthier? Are we just exchanging one health problem for another?
We don’t really know (yet) but my spidey sense tells me we may see a few other health issues begin to skyrocket due to our over-consumption of protein.
But enough ranting about food politics for today, and let’s move onto this glorious macronutrient that hasn’t quite yet found it’s proper place on our dinner plate.
Fat doesn’t make you fat
It really doesn’t. It’s physiologically impossible. Yes, it’s higher in calories (gram for gram) than protein or carbs, but the calories-in/calories-out idea is a problematic method for weight loss.
We were told to eat less fat BECAUSE it is high in calories, and instead as a population we became obese. Could those be connected?
Fat is satiating, it tells your brain you’ve had enough food– so ya, I’d say they’re pretty connected :).
Fat is super duper duper super duper important in your body. It is the building block for every cell. Every cell. You know those peeps with beautiful, glowing skin that barely needs moisturizer? That’s healthy fat beauty.
It’s also the building block for most hormones, and don’t get me started on how important hormones are :).
Not all fat is equal
We hear a lot about “healthy fat”, but there still is a lot of confusion over what healthy fat is and what to avoid.
Very simply – healthy fat is as close as possible to how it's found in nature.
Fat doesn’t like to be processed. Even a small amount of processing can damage the precious fat molecule.
Fat to enjoy & enjoy - lots and lots!
Slather these fats on everything! Aim for 1 tsp – 1 tbsp more per meal (if your skin is dry then you need even more)
Naturally found in food – like avocados, raw nuts and seeds, olives, cold water fish (cooked below 350 degrees)
Minimally processed – cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, organic butter, Udo’s oil, fish oil supplements, hempseed oil, and other cold-pressed oils (usually found in dark brown bottles or in the fridge)
Fats to enjoy minimally
These fats are okay, but not super fabulous. They’re fine to use for cooking, but don’t over consume.
Grapeseed oil, organic canola oil, avocado oil, olive oil (not cold-pressed)
Fats to avoid
These are fats that have been processed so much that their chemical structure may have changed.
* important note – the Trans-fat labelling issue. In Canada, food processors are allowed to add up to 0.5g of trans-fat PER SERVING to their foods while calling it “0g trans-fat”. So please read the ingredients, ignore labels.
All forms of margarine, partially hydrogenated oil, canola oil, yellow/clear oils in plastic containers, any oil that has a bitter flavour to it (rancid), or any oil that is many years old (fat isn’t like wine, it doesn’t age well)
A word on saturated fat
Saturated fat has gotten a very bad rap over the last few decades, but happily, it has been vindicated. In the 1980s, most studies combined saturated fats and transfat…so of course the results showed that they were connected with health problems.
What we’ve found in the last decade is that minimally processed saturated fat, especially from healthy animals/foods (like organic butter, free-range egg yolks, or coconut oil) is not just okay, but HEALTHY! These foods contain essential fats, we NEED THEM!
For more, check out this article from the CBC
Wanna eat more fat? Check out these healthy, gloriously fatty peppermint patties. They may seem sinful, but they’re actually good for you and your brain will love them!
p.s. we know now that it was wrong to vilify fat. I think we will learn (soon-ish) that it’s equally wrong to vilify carbs. So enjoy some healthy carbs, like sweet potatoes with some organic butter. Now that’s glorious :)