FAT: It isn't all bad is it?

The word FAT has such a negative connotation surrounding it. When obesity numbers in North America started to rise, numerous food companies started coming out with 'low-fat' and 'fat-free products', which convinced many of us that since they were lower in fat, they were a healthier food. What a hoax that turned out to be! Many people do not realize that when you remove the fat from manufactured food, sugar (or a sugar substitute) is its replacement. Sugar turns into fat when too much of it is absorbed into your body. Also, it is important to note that just because something is low fat or fat free does not mean it is lower in calories. In order to maintain a healthy body weight your calories in must equal your calories out. Like I have said a hundred times: if you want to maintain a healthy body weight, eat a whole foods diet! You cannot go wrong if every food you eat is in fact a naturally grown, non-GMO food.  By now you must be wondering which fats are my favorite... Continue reading to find out!

So what makes a fat 'good' or 'bad'? It has to do with the chemical structure of the fat, also known as its saturation. One easy way to remember which fats are considered "saturated" and "unsaturated" is that saturated fats tend to be solid or hard at room temperature. When picking a fat, a good rule to follow is to always choose unsaturated fats over saturated or trans fats. The only exception to this rule is coconut oil. Coconut oil is a saturated fat but it has numerous health promoting factors, which I will discuss in an upcoming post.

When choosing fats make sure the ingredients consist of real foods and are either MUFAs and/or PUFAs (mono- or poly-unsaturated fatty acids)

My favorites fats are: 
  • Coconut Oil 
  • Extra Virgin Cold-Pressed Olive Oil
  • Hemp Seed Oil
  • Grape Seed Oil
The fats I always try to avoid include: 
  • Hydrogenated Oils (such as margarine as these contain trans fats) 
  • Animal fats (except certain fish such as salmon)
  • Dairy fats (like butter)
When buying it is best to buy them in a glass bottle as plastic can leech chemicals into the oil. Try out different fats but always look up their heat stability, also known as the "smoke point" of an oil. It is always sad to see someone choose a healthier oil, but then negate the health benefits by heating it too high! A couple general tips when cooking with oils include: 

  • Never EVER heat flax or hemp seed oil
  • Olive oil should only be heated at a low temperature and is not ideal for high stovetop cooking or baking.  Try drizzling it over your food before serving instead. 
  • Try cooking with coconut oil: with the exception of scrambled eggs, the taste of coconut oil in most foods is not noticeable! 
It is important to remember that fats are an essential part of a healthy diet. The key is to know which ones are healthier than others and to avoid saturated and trans fats.

Remember: Don't be afraid of healthy fats, and try experimenting with new MUFAs and PUFAs! 

best in health,
kate kokoski


Judith said...

Now they are saying that butter and other natural saturated fats are okay. Only transfats are not. The information keeps changing. But avocados are good!

Kate Kokoski said...

Thanks for your comment Judith! I agree to some extent that some saturated fats are okay in moderation of course. If you want to have saturated fats my top pick is coconut oil. I would say that the reason why unsaturated fats are generally better is that many of them have health PROMOTING effects. While eating saturated fats in moderation is not harmful to your health, you do not receive the same nutritional benefits as you would in the MUFAs/PUFAs.
Thanks for reading!

best in health,

Anonymous said...

I know that coconut oil is promoted as a healthy oil- but I'm a little confused. Since it's solid at room temperature, and it's a saturated fat, why would you use it over an unsaturated fat such as canola?

Kate Kokoski said...

Hi thanks for your comment! In an upcoming post I will be explaining in more detail the health benefits of coconuts in general, including coconut oil.

It is true that coconut oil is primarily saturated fat, but it boosts metabolism, is anti-inflammatory, supports a healthy thyroid, and kills yeast in the body.

I hope this helps!

best in health,

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