January 9, 2021

The Skinny on Fat


Fat is good! Fat is bad! Which is it?

Fat is good! Fat is bad. Which is it?

It depends. Good fat is good. Bad fat is bad.

When I was growing up fat was vilified as the enemy of health. You could have all the sugar and carbs you wanted but DO NOT EAT FAT. Low fat. Low fat. Low fat! That was the public health message. Now we have a public health crisis from consuming too many, highly-processed carbohydrates that were inserted in place of the fat.

There is so much conflicting food information.

Well, it turns out that fat is actually a necessary part of a healthy diet. The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat and fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine your brain’s integrity and ability to perform. Good fats from high-quality, whole food sources (see below) can decrease inflammation, regulate metabolism, improve brain function, help balance your hormones and makes food taste better.

In addition, fat does not make you fat. Bad fats, highly-processed carbohydrates and added sugar are the likely culprits. How is “good fat” defined, you ask?

It’s not as simple as saturated versus unsaturated fats; and avoiding trans fats/hydrogenated oils. It starts with food quality. You want to consume foods that are the least-processed. When it comes to food and oil in this case, the more highly processed an oil is the less nutritional value it has (and harm it may inflict). It means that you should purchase your oils from a reputable company that is dedicated to producing a product that is organic and non-GMO and does not use chemical solvents to extract/process the oil. Yes. Some food processors use chemical solvents (like hexane) to extract the oil from foods like olives and nuts. Crazy. I know. Three examples of brands that use healthy production methods are: Spectrum, Nutiva and Ellyndale. If you are unsure about a brand I suggest reading the label and doing internet research to see how the oil ends up in the bottle.

What to do?

Rather than go into the science behind good and bad fats (see my suggested reading list below if you want to know more), I want to provide you with a list of the best fat-containing foods to include in your diet. You can print this out and take it grocery shopping. This list is based on data from “Eat Fat, Get Thin” by renowned functional medicine doctor Dr. Mark Hyman, Director of Functional Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic:

  • Meat (grass-fed, organic if possible): beef, bison, lamb, venison
  • Poultry (organic, no hormones/antibiotics): chicken, duck, eggs, turkey
  • Seafood (wild-caught, low-mercury): salmon, trout, tilapia, sole, anchovies, catfish, herring, mackerel, squid, sardines. Wild Planet and Safe-Catch are two brands of canned tuna that are tested for mercury. Check out ewg.org for info on choosing fish.
  • Shellfish: clams, crab, mussels, oysters, scallops, shrimp. Be sure to research the product (ewg.org) and how it is brought to market (farmed versus wild harvest).
  • Dairy: grass-fed butter, grass-fed ghee
  • Non-Dairy Milks (organic): almond, cashew, coconut, hemp. Avoid added sugar and emulsifiers like guar gum and carrageenan.
  • Nuts (organic): almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans
  • Seeds (organic): chia, black sesame, flax, hemp, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, walnuts
  • Nut and Seed Butters: see lists above; watch out for added undesirable added oils and sweeteners.
  • Oils: extra virgin coconut oil (for moderate heat cooking), avocado oil (for higher heat cooing), extra virgin olive oil (do not cook with EVOO), sesame oil (can withstand higher heat); for salads only: almond oil, macadamia oil, walnut oil [Note that there are no vegetable oils on this list. Stay away from hydrogenated oils/trans fat.]
  • Other: avocados, cocoa butter, dark chocolate (watch added sugar), olives

A note on oil storage. Oils are sensitive to oxygen and light. Buy them in smaller quantities (the amount you will use in 3-4 months) and store them in a cabinet or dark place with the lid or cap firmly in place. Do not store over the stove.

author: Kim McFadden

For further information:

  1. “Eat Fat, Get Thin, Why the Fat We Eat is the Key to Sustained Weight Loss and Vibrant Health” by Dr. Mark Hyman, MD.
  2. “Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill” by Udo Erasmus
  3. “Eat Fat, Lose Fat” by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon
  4. “Brain Maker” by David Perlmutter, MD

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be medical advice nor is it meant to replace your own physician’s advice. Looking for a certified functional medical practitioner? go to https://www.ifm.org/

At Bleu Laurel we are passionate about learning and sharing information on all things wellness. Our blog is a place for us to share information on things we love learning about including food, fashion, restorative retreats, personal development, and fun ways to get your body moving. If there is a particular subject you want to see, please email us at admin@bleulaurel.com.

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