Dietary fats are NOT evil and will NOT make you fat, despite the misleading name of the macro nutrient group. To clarify, there are vastly superior forms of fats that should be emphasized over lesser forms. The fat found in a double quarter pounder with cheese is not the same as those found in coconut oil, unfortunately! There are several types of fats, including saturated fats, trans or hydrogenated fats (BAD), and unsaturated fats, and I’ll discuss each group below.
Saturated fats –
These fats are solid at room temperature, and are mostly derived from meat, dairy and egg products. Despite some mainstream beliefs that suggest ALL saturated fats are bad for our cardiovascular health, raise bad cholesterol and generally lead to bad things, a diet comprised of quality variations of these fats can actually BENEFIT one’s cardiovascular health.
My personal favourite: Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. 95% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, of which about half is Lauric Acid. This is a fat that is extremely anti-viral and anti-microbial. Lauric acid converts to its active form Monolaurin, which is found heavily in breast milk, and is one reason why babies who are breast fed seem to have stronger immune systems. Numerous studies point to Coconut Oil’s positive effects on raising good cholesterol (HDL), boosting hormone health and lowering blood pressure. It also provides steadier energy levels when paired with a nutrient dense meal of protein and carbs, without the ebb and flow of a meal lacking a fat source. And, unlike many other cooking oils, it doesn’t lose its nutritional value when heated–making it an ideal oil to cook with.
Trans & Hydrogenated Fats –
These fats are often used to extend the shelf life of processed foods. Read the label and avoid these if at all possible!
Unsaturated fats –
There are two types of fats in this sub-category, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monos can be found in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Canola Oil, nuts, and avocados, etc. These fats have been proven countless times to raise good (HDL) cholesterol and lower bad (LDL). Careful when cooking with these oils… keep it on low heat, as they aren’t as heat stable as the more saturated fats out there. Polyunsaturated fats, meanwhile, comprise of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Salmon is a rich source of omega 3s and cod liver oil is an OTC supplement that provides a hefty dose. Fish Oils are hugely popular in the health & fitness industry, and for good reason. They should be a staple in everyone’s diet, young or old, but especially so for those north of 40, as a diet rich in seafood boosts thyroid production, which tends to decline rapidly with age. Be careful not to overdo polys high in Omega 6s such as corn oil or safflower oil, found in a lot of pre-packaged snack foods (Tostitos). They promote inflammation within the body, which is a partial cause for many common diseases affecting North Americans today. Morale of the story: Omega 3s = good; Omega 6s = Bad.
Cliff Notes: Cook with EV coconut oil and make salads with EV Olive Oil dressing and you’re on your way!