Let me start with this:
1. All fat is NOT created equal
2. Fat is one of the three critical macronutrients; along with protein and carbohydrates.
But wait, why is fat a critical macronutrient?
That is because healthy fats support your brain, hormones, immune system, heart health, and moods.
If you ask me that is a pretty good support.
But when you eat not so healthy fats they pretty much bust all of these (brain, hormones, immune system, heart health, and moods).
This is the main reason why the information I’m sharing today is so important.
Now that we know fats are not created equal and are important for our health, let’s explore which are healthy vs not so healthy fats.
As a general rule, the fats that come from whole foods and are minimally processed will be the healthiest for you.
So, which are the sources of healthy fats?
Healthy fats come from:
● Nuts and seeds (hemp, flax, and chia)
● Pasture-raised/grass-fed animals/eggs
I love “virgin or unrefined” oils, and here’s why. Getting the oil out of a whole food involves some processing. Sometimes it’s by squeezing, or heating. Other times it’s by using chemical solvents. The word “virgin” is used to show minimal processing (and no solvents!).
According to the World Health Organization’s Codex Alimentarius:
“Virgin fats and oils are edible vegetable fats, and oils obtained, without altering the nature of the oil, by mechanical procedures, e.g., expelling or pressing, and the application of heat only. They may be purified by washing with water, settling, filtering and centrifuging only.”
For example, Extra virgin olive oil must:
● Be cold pressed
● Not contain any refined olive oil
● Possess superior quality based on chemical composition and sensory characteristics.
Plus, the minimal processing helps to maintain some of the quality of delicate fat molecules, as well as their antioxidants.
And, what are the sources of not so healthy fats?
Not so healthy fats come from:
● Seed and vegetable oils like safflower, soybean, and corn oils
● Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils.
Hydrogenated oils are not healthy because they contain small amounts of "trans" fats. Studies show that trans fats lead to insulin resistance, inflammation, belly fat. They also drastically raise the risk of heart disease.
Don’t forget, we’re not just talking about buying bottles of these fats for home cooking. We’re also looking at the processed foods that contain them.
How can I incorporate more healthy fats in my diet?
Start by ditching any foods in your fridge and pantry that contain safflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, or any hydrogenated oil. Soybean oil alone accounts for over 75% of oils consumed by Americans, so it’s pretty popular in the “non-health food” department.
Then, try substituting one of the healthy oils whenever you have a recipe that calls for the other stuff. Try flax oil in your salad dressing, avocado and/or olive oil in your cooking, and coconut oil in your baking.
Finally, make healthier versions of your go-to processed foods. Below I’m sharing one recipe.
Home Made Mayonnaise (healthy fat)
Makes about 1 ½ cups
1 large or extra large egg
2 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
1 cup olive or avocado oil
1. Add all ingredients except oil to your food processor. Process until creamy (about 10 seconds).
2. With the food processor running, add a few drops of oil into the egg mixture. Every few seconds add a few more drops. Continue until the mixture starts to thicken.
3. Now you can do a slow drizzle. Stop pouring, every once in a while checking that the oil gets fully incorporated.
4. Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge for up to 1-2 weeks.
5. Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Use this in place of mayonnaise for egg, salmon, chicken salads, etc.