5 Healthy Fats for your kitchen pantry

Like many of you, I used to be afraid of fat. The anti-saturated fat message was loud and clear. “Eat Fat and you will get fat”. So, I stayed clear! Instead, I ate more carbs and “low fat” foods, which were mostly loaded with sugar and other simple carbohydrates.

Our food pyramid, which was born in the 1970’s put fat at the top to “be used sparingly” and our diet was supposed to consist of mostly of carbohydrates including lots of whole grains.

To give you a brief history of how this came about, we have to talk about the influence of Ancel Keys and his “lipid hypothesis” study. In the 1950’s, He made a direct relationship between the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet and the incidence of coronary artery disease. He received lots of publicity for his study, especially from the American Heart Association, American Cancer Association and the American Medical Association. They all chose to disregard the glaring flaws in the study, namely that he deleted the data that proved his hypothesis wrong, and they jumped on the anti-fat band wagon. They wanted a simple solution to the increase in obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Saturated Fat was an easy target and there wasn’t a big industry to fight the blame.

This created the perfect storm: the sugar industry funded more research further demonizing saturated fats. The vegetable oil industry received funding from the federal government which encouraged farmers to grow more corn and soybeans. Crisco and other vegetable shortenings increased advertising and touted its benefits. The pharmaceutical industry funded even more studies to show that saturated fats increased cholesterol levels, making us believe that this was the main cause of heart disease. Statin drugs were being handed out like candy.

As you can see, our health has been put on the back burner for financial gain from the vegetable oil, pharmaceutical and sugar industries. The good news is that these hypotheses and myths have all been busted and we are now seeing a comeback of saturated fats in our diet and the importance of them for our health. At the same time, the cheap vegetable oils are getting the bad rap they deserve for contributing to disease including obesity and autoimmune.

When I first started eating more fat, it was hard for me to wrap my brain around this concept. But, you know what? I noticed that I didn’t crave sugar nearly as much any more, my skin started to look and feel better, my brain was less foggy and my digestive issues started to decrease. And, I didn’t gain a pound, in fact, I became leaner! I was feeding my body what it was craving, nourishing fats!!

Lucky for all of us, this world wide web is full of wonderful information and the truth can be found at our finger tips. Here are some practical tips of what fats to use and how to use them:

  1. Butter. I use grass fed or pastured butter. Two great brands are: Organic Valley pastured butter and Kerry Gold grass fed butter. These butters come from cows that have been grazing on fresh grass in the sunshine. You will get more vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin K2. Without fat, your body won’t be able to absorb these important nutrients. I keep a crock out on my counter so it is soft and great for spreading on toast, adding to oatmeal, or for baking and cooking.
  2. Coconut oil. I use organic, raw coconut oil. In my cold climate, it is solid at room temperature. I use it in my tea in the morning, and for most of my baking. Because it has a coconut flavor, I also use expeller pressed coconut oil. This has a neutral flavor and is excellent for sauteing and frying. Coconut oil is an excellent source of energy because the medium chain triglycerides don’t need to be broken down in digestion to be absorbed. They won’t get stored as fat because they are used for immediate energy throughout the body and brain. It stores well too, you can keep it at room temperature for months, even years! (just make sure your utensils are clean when you scoop it out!) Where I buy mine: Wilderness Family Naturals.
  3. Duck Fat. I love duck fat! It has a neutral flavor, so it is great for frying, roasting and even baking. You can get it online and even most grocery stores carry it now. Epic brand has a great one. I love to fry or roast potatoes, sweet potatoes or any other starchy tuber. It gives them a great texture as well as flavor. Epic Duck Fat
  4. Ghee. Ghee, or clarified butter is just butter without the dairy in it. This is probably my go to fat in my kitchen. I use it to fry eggs, saute vegetables, use in baking or just spread on a piece of toast. (gluten free, of course!) One of the great things about ghee is that it has a high smoke point so it doesn’t burn easily. You can buy it at your local grocery or make your own. It stores well too, keep it out on the counter and it lasts for months since the casein (dairy protein) is removed. Pure Indian Foods has a great one.
  5. Extra Virgin Olive oil. I use gallons of this, but only for cold use purposes. Since I don’t buy salad dressings, I make my own with this oil. Make sure it is extra virgin and cold pressed (or first pressed). Also, make sure it is from a reliable source. The cheap, lighter colored olive oils can have other cheap vegetable oils added without saying so on the label. This is a highly profitable industry and unfortunately, fraud has become rampant. If it is cheap, its probably cheaply made also. Do your homework with this one. You can use it for frying or roasting also, but only on a low temperature setting. Higher temps will cause burning and change the structure of the oil to have unhealthy free radicals which cause inflammation.

These fats are a great addition to your pantry and diet. Look for more posts on other fats coming soon!