In Part 1, we discussed the vital roles and types of fats, and in Part 2, we dug into the differing research on saturated fat, cholesterol, and its relation to heart health. Today, we wrap it up with discussing which fats to eat and which to ditch, along with ways to eat more nourishing fats for vibrant health!
The Ideal Amount of Fat
Because each person is biochemically unique, each person has an optimal range of fat intake for vibrant health.
Regardless of quantity, consuming a variety of fats from different plant and animal sources and ensuring a proper Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio is ideal for optimum health.
While the American Heart Association recommends 25 – 35% fat with only 7% as saturated fat, according to Dr. Mary Enig, Ph. D, different ages and stages require upwards of a 20% swing in fat to support proper development and functioning (Enig, 2000).
In a Nutshell: Quality Fats to Eat!
While fat intake needs may vary, quality should not.
Animal Protein: Organic, pasture-raised
Ideally, when eating animal protein, organic, pasture-raised, sustainably produced versions are best (Lipski, 2000).
Unfortunately, most conventional meats in grocery stores come from concentrated animal feed operations (CAFOs), where animals are raised in unhealthy conditions, fed unnatural food, and given synthetic antibiotics and hormones to promote growth and ward of disease. These conditions introduce imbalanced Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids and increase toxins, and when eaten, deliver the same imbalance and toxins to us.
Because of these same reasons, it is important to AVOID farm-raised fish and stick to cold water, wild-caught versions to avoid heavy metals and other toxins.
Dairy: Grass-fed, whole fat, raw
While many of us are lactose intolerant and should avoid dairy, it’s best to choose organic, whole fat, raw dairy from grass-fed cows if you do purchase it. This will ensure all of the beneficial enzymes and probiotics, and minimize exposure to the denatured milk protein and toxins that pasteurization and homogenization kill.
Plant-Based Fats & Oils: Organic, cold, expeller-pressed
It’s important to purchase minimally processed organic, cold, expeller-pressed oil in dark bottles to maximize nutrients and minimize toxins and oxidation from heat, light and air.
Nuts & Seeds: Raw
Choose raw nuts stored in airtight bags or containers. Store in the fridge for an extended shelf life and to minimize the development of mold and toxins. Watch out for conventional nuts baked in vegetable oils (this is so common!), because along with already being a PUFA, being cooked at high heat in other PUFAs = oxidized, rancid fats in your body.
In a Nutshell: Fats to Avoid
AVOID: Refined PUFAs, hydrogenated oils, and trans fats
Avoid highly refined PUFA oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids, such as safflower, sunflower, canola, vegetable, cottonseed, soybean, grapeseed oils. Related hydrogenated oils (or trans fats) found in margarine, shortening, and processed foods, too, because of their potential to cause oxidation and damage in the body.
To add fuel to the fire, many of these oils are from genetically modified organism crops (GMOs), which we all know are not our friends.
Warning: Sneaky Places for Hydrogenated Oils
FYI – The majority of restaurants, especially restaurant chains, use that toxic, yellow vegetable oil or canola oil. Because it is already rancid from the high amount of processing, the additional heat from cooking makes the oil that much more reactive in your arteries.
I’ve found it’s helpful to ask your waiter what type of oil is used, and if he or she says canola or vegetable, for instance, I let them know…
“I’m allergic to this oil.”
Because, on some level, I am and we ALL are, right!?
This usually makes them much more apt to tell the cook to use butter or olive oil, and that makes me and my belly happy.
One last point. Be sure to check the food labels of EVERYTHING, especially boxed and packaged foods. Manufacturers love to sneak in vegetable oils in EVERYTHING because of its ability to prevent things from going rancid, and to give processed foods texture. You’ll find vegetable oil in everything from cereal, to nuts and peanut butter, to baked goods using names like, “partially hydrogenated vegetable,” “corn oil,” “cottonseed oil,” or “soybean oil,” for instance.
Ways to Include More Fats in Your Diet
With so many amazing sources of fats, there are umpteen ways to include more fats in your diet! Here are of my some of my personal favorites:
- Fry eggs in lard, coconut oil, or butter
- Add a few pieces of nitrate-free bacon to those eggs, while you’re at it!
- Add a spoonful of coconut oil, flaxseed, and/or chia seeds to a smoothie
- Try one of these 10 non-processed breakfast ideas
Snacks & Sweets
- Add almond butter or organic peanut butter to a sweet potato, banana, or sliced veggies
- Saute veggies in butter, lard, or coconut oil
- Use avocados in guacamole, decadent “chocado” pudding, or cut in half and sprinkle some sea salt on it for a snack!
- Get your baking on with some healthy fats like creamy pumpkin banana raisin muffins!
- For a healthy sweet treat, make fudge like this or this using coconut oil, dark chocolate and nuts!
Lunch or Dinner
- Use coconut milk in a smoothie or a thai dish (coconut banana smoothie or coconut curry chicken, anyone?)
- Douse your salad in olive oil/seed & nut oils and sprinkle with some walnuts, sliced almonds, or sunflower seeds for crunch (instead of croutons)
- Get your hands on some grass-fed beef and whip up some fajitas with sauteed peppers in olive oil or butter + guacamole + organic, full fat cheese
- Broil salmon with coconut oil or butter
What about you? What are your favorite ways to include more fats!?
Enig, Mary G. “Fat and Cholesterol in Human Milk.” The Weston A. Price Foundation. 31 December 2001, http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/fat-and-cholesterol-in-human-milk.
Lipski, Elizabeth. Digestive Wellness, 4th Edition. McGraw Hill: New York, 2012.