All fat is NOT created equal!
Fat is one of the three critical macro-nutrients; along with protein and carbohydrates. Some fats are super-health-boosting and others are super-health-busting.
Health-building fats support your brain, hormones, immune system, heart health, and mood. Health-busting fats, yep you guessed it, pretty much bust all of these (brain, hormones, immune system, heart health, and mood). This is why the information I’m sharing today is so important.
As a general rule, fats from whole foods that are the least processed will be the healthiest for you. You already knew that, right?
So, let me give you a definitive list of the fats to use, and the fats to ditch.
These fats come from:
- Nuts and seeds (hemp, flax, and chia)
- Grass-fed animals, eggs
I use “virgin” oils, and here’s why. Getting the oil out of a whole food involves some processing. Sometimes it’s by squeezing, or heating. Other times it’s by using chemical solvents. The word “virgin” is used to show minimal processing (and no solvents!).
According to the World Health Organization’s Codex Alimentarius:
“Virgin fats and oils are edible vegetable fats, and oils obtained, without altering the nature of the oil, by mechanical procedures, e.g., expelling or pressing, and the application of heat only. They may be purified by washing with water, settling, filtering and centrifuging only.”
For example, Extra virgin olive oil must:
- Be cold pressed
- Not contain any refined olive oil
- Possess superior quality based on chemical composition and sensory characteristics
Don’t you think these standards ensure higher quality? I sure do!
Plus, the minimal processing helps to maintain some of the quality of delicate fat molecules, as well as their antioxidants. Definitely a Win-Win!
These fats come from:
- Seed and vegetable oils like safflower, soybean, and corn oils
- Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils
Hydrogenated oils are particularly bad; this is because they contain small amounts of “trans” fats. Studies show that trans fats lead to insulin resistance, inflammation, and belly fat. They also drastically raise the risk of heart disease. Definitely a Lose-Lose!
Don’t forget, I’m not just talking about buying bottles of these fats for home cooking. I’m also looking at the processed foods that contain them.
How to get more health-building fats
First, you have my permission to ditch any foods in your cupboards that contain safflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, or any hydrogenated oil. Soybean oil alone accounts for over 75% of oils consumed by Americans, so it’s pretty popular in the “non-health food” department.
Second, try substituting one of the health-building oils whenever you have a recipe that calls for the other stuff. Try flax oil in your salad dressing, avocado and/or olive oil in your cooking, and coconut oil in your baking.
Third, make healthier versions of your go-to processed foods. I’ll help you out now with a super-simple mayonnaise recipe below.
Now tell me: What’s your favorite fat and why? Let me know in the comments below.
Mayonnaise (healthy fat)
1 large or extra-large egg
2 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
1 cup olive or avocado oil
Add all ingredients except oil to your food processor. Process until creamy (about 10 seconds).
With the food processor running, add a few drops of oil into the egg mixture. Every few seconds add a few more drops. Continue until the mixture starts to thicken. Makes about 1 ½ cups.
Now you can do a slow drizzle. Stop pouring, every once in a while, checking that the oil gets fully incorporated.
Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 weeks.
Tip: Use this in place of mayonnaise for egg, salmon, chicken salads, etc.