Raise your hand if you still believe that fat gives you heart disease and cancer and makes you fat. It’s not surprising. For the last 40 years there has been a concerted effort to demonize saturated fats—which has left us all feeling sad and unsatisfied.
The good news is that most of what we learned as kids was wrong. Certain saturated fats are not only good for you but essential for optimal health. Every week I see another study confirming that, in fact, no one can prove that lowering cholesterol lowers the chance of heart disease. Most people I talk to about Healthy Fats they are willing to accept butter, olive oil, avocados and even coconuts as healthy, but it’s a little hard to accept that lard, duck fat, and egg yolks are just as healthy for us.
Factory made vegetable oils like margarine, canola, cottonseed, soybean, peanut, and corn oils are NOT healthy. These unnatural oils contain GMOs, and are bleached, heated at high temperatures, and full of preservatives. Even with all that treatment they are usually rancid by the time we eat them, full of cancer causing free radicals. They have been heavily promoted by the people who make money selling them, who took advantage of some bad science to convince us all that we could never have good tasting dishes again. Almost all of the “evidence” against saturated fats came from one study in the 1950s where the author cherry picked his results to support the theory he wanted to find.
But what about all that cholesterol clogging our arteries?! Cholesterol is a part of every cell in the human body, and a necessary component for healing. Blaming cholesterol for heart disease is like blaming antibodies for communicable diseases. Yes, having high cholesterol is an indication of ill health, but it’s there to heal, not the cause of the problem.
Real traditional fats are essential for health and happiness. Our brains are made up of 60 percent fat, and feeding them properly helps them to function well. The fat soluble vitamins—A, D, E, and K—prevent cancer and help regulate hormones. Proper fats reduce inflammation, keep our skin glowing and our moods even. And they help us feel satisfied so can actually help us lose weight.
I explain to my clients, and pretty much anyone else that will stand still, that the body gets energy from two sources—carbs and fat. If you want to cut back on carbs (that means sugar, bread, pasta, pizza, cookies, soda etc. etc.) because you recognize that those are not good sources of nutrition, then you need to substitute healthy fats so that you won’t feel run down and dissatisfied. Most are skeptical...until they try it. I had one diabetic client who was able by switching to a high fat, low carb diet to get off insulin within a month, and lose 30 pounds.
Of course, you want to have the highest quality fat sources you can afford. Even low quality butter is better than margarine. Organic is better, and raw, grass-fed is best. Same with all animal sources of fat—high quality pasture raised animals produce fat that is MUCH higher in Omega-3 essential fatty acids and vitamins than those raised in confinement “factory” farms.
How much more fun would life be if you were able to eat butter on your vegetables, full fat dairy products and crispy chicken skins again? I think that pleasure is an important part of nutrition. Studies show that eating with joy and pleasure actually improves digestion. No one wants to spend their life eating fat free; it’s like living on cardboard. It is one of the greatest joys of my food conversations to see the light begin to come on in people’s eyes with the thought that they might be able to have delicious, guilt-free meals again.