The Scoop on Good Girl Fats

1/13/2015 - 7:48:28 AM
Fat. That word that we associate with french fries, comfort food, and heart disease. Ever since the 80’s and 90’s when the fat-free hit its highest mark we’ve slowly been making the comeback to eating them. It’s not that we don’t like fats, it’s just that we define guilty food pleasure as being chock full of grease and oil.
  • cream
  • bacon
  • whole milk
  • red meats
  • ice-cream 
  • butter
  • eggs
Instead our mothers and doctors handed us a list of things we should be eating, because if you ate any of the above list, you were going to eventually clog those heart arteries and choke out all healthy life and cholesterol. Instead everyone was encouraged to protect against heart disease and stroke by eating less whole fats, and more hydrogenated oils.
  • low fat yogurt
  • skim milk
  • egg white omelets
  • corn chex
  • margarine
  • crisco

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!

As usual, overreaction took place by the medical, scientific and lay communities. When Ancel Keys presented his theory that fats were directly linked to our negative heart health, he “accidentally” missed including 16 countries out of the 22 countries he had access to for food availability, and only included 6 that fit his pre-conceived ideas. In those particular six countries (found in the continents of the United States, Northern Europe, Southern Europe and Japan) he did find some links between heart disease and fats, but even at the time the paper was published, scientists and doctors had enough valid doubts as to completely knock out his findings out of play. I wish it had, because the whole low-fat, no-fat movement did a lot of damage to our health today.

Fats are Bad, Fats make us Fat

This one is so glaringly false now that it is frustrating to realize several generations were hoodwinked by this one. Fats are very essential, and it can be a life and death matter not to eat them. We have to have fat to function because the body can’t make certain fats on it’s own, like triglycerides, cholesterol and essential fatty acids. All these must be present in our body so we can:
  • Store energy
  • insulate and protect vital organs 
  • send messages in the body 
  • help proteins work properly
  • start chemical reactions that help control affect growth, immune function, reproduction and basic metabolism
The cycle of how the body makes, breaks, stores and mobilizes fats is at the core of how any human or animal regulates energy, and imbalances in this process can result in major problems like heart and diabetes diseases. Either have too many or too few triglycerides can lead to clogged arteries, or low insulin production.

The other major role fats play is helping the body stockpile certain nutrients as well. Fat-soluble vitamins -A, D, E and K- are stored in fatty tissues and in the liver.

Eating fat is essential, however a sweeping statement that “all fats are good” is equally foolish. Every food can be corrupted into something that isn’t good for us and in this case scientists took something that was good and made it into something our bodies can’t handle: hydrogenated oils, or trans fat.

Healthy Fat VS. Bad Fat

Here we get to the fun part. As with anything, fats are not supposed to make up most of our food intake, and should clock in right around 30% for adults. (more for kids) The tricky part is knowing which fats to eat, and what we need to stay healthy.

Bad Fat

Bad fats a.k.a. hydrogenated or trans fat, are processed oils made through a process where hydrogen gas is blown through oils at high pressure, converting the essential fatty acids chemically into trans fat. The upside is it resulted in a longer and more stable shelf life, but the downside is that it also subjects the body to a type of fat it can’t break down, i.e. clogged arteries, among other things.

The Three Good girls

Triglycerides or saturated fats are made up of three fatty acids piggybacking on one glycerol molecule, and are mostly found in animal products like meat, cheese, milk, butter, cream and eggs. These should be a part of every normal diet for health benefits, vitamins and mineral intake, aiding in body functions. Commonly thought to raise LDL levels and inflammation, they actually assist in neutralizing these particles and raising the HDL levels. Always choose good saturated fats rather than trans fat and hydrogenated sources.

Poly, or monounsaturated fats are fats that are simple, usually only have one-two types of fat, and are recognized to be healthy fats. This list includes things like olive, peanut, canola, sunflower and sesame oils. Monounsaturated fats are also found in things like nuts and seeds and avocados, and have a more widely accepted place in the benefits of lowering bad cholesterol and risk of stroke and heart disease.

Essential fatty acids are considered to be the powerhouse fats, especially omega-3s, and are polyunsaturated fats. Researchers have been studying these out closely, and have seen these to be effective in treating heart disease and stroke and have benefits against autoimmune diseases like lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3s are mainly found in fish, but also from flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil and unhydrogenated soybean oil. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are also great sources.

So the summary is; eat good fats and avoid hydrogenated, trans or processed fats. Eat about a third of your daily calories from this, and by all means use good cream and butter, bacon and red meats.

Good Girl Guacamole

To showcase an awesome natural fat, we have a banner guacamole recipe we’ve <literally> mashed up for you, so find those tortilla chips made with good fats and dig in!
  • 2 avocados
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. pepper
  • 1 green onion, or (2) T. minced onion
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • 1.5 T. lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. sour cream (optional)
If you have an immersion blender go ahead and blend it that way, but a fork will mash it up as well. This recipe is also super with finely chopped cilantro or tomato, but that is as each person prefers.

Use those tortilla chips and really dig in!

Until next time.
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