As a teenager, I read voraciously about oils and fats. At the time, oil/fat was my #1 diet enemy. Why? Because fat makes you fat, right? Or so I believed.
The medical and research community continues to adjust its way of thinking about what is a good fat and what is a bad fat. Here's a brief recap.
1970s through to early 2000: mono saturated fats were good for you, polyunsaturated fats were better for you and saturated fats were the worst of the worst! Examples of oils that are high in mono saturated fats include olive oil, peanut oil and sesame oil. Polyunsaturated fats were fats like soya bean oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oils, rapeseed oil and safflower oil. Saturated fats were fats that were mostly animal based – lard, butter, ghee (clarified butter) plus any of the solid white or yellow fat found around meats. A plant based example would be coconut oil. Quite simply, if the fat solidified itself at in the fridge, it was likely to be saturated.
Good and bad cholesterol – the basics: Good cholesterol, (HDL) protects against heart disease. Bad cholesterol, (LDL) causes damage and is linked to heart disease. When you go for your annual medical checkup, and test your blood for cholesterol levels, doctors also check for your good and bad cholesterol levels and the relative ratio to assess a person’s risk to heat disease.
Monosaturated fats raise HDL and lower LDL. Polyunsaturated fats, typically the vegetable oils, were believed to be relatively neutral to both types of cholesterol. Saturated fats on the other hand were believed to increase your LDL and lower HDL – so that was considered doubly bad.
Emerging strongly is a shift in what constitutes good fat and bad fat. Nearly all research unanimously agrees that monosaturated oils like olive oil are still good for you. However, what has shifted quite strongly is the perspective on polyunsaturated oils and saturated fats. The thinking has reversed.
Butter vs margarine? Which is better?
For years, we were encouraged to give up butter in favor of margarine because butter was bad for you. The opposite is now being promoted – that butter, especially butter from grass fed cows, is better for you and does not lead to oxidative stress in the heart and arteries. However, margarine, a polyunsaturated fat that was marketed as a healthier alternative, has been shown to cause oxidative stress and damage to arterial walls. The same is being found for other polyunsaturated fats such as rapeseed oil (also known as safflower oil), sunflower oil and soya bean oil.
Animal fat is okay for you? Really?
We are also finding out that animal fats, especially from organic sources, are less likely to do us harm than hydrogenated vegetable oils. So go ahead, it will be alright for you to start having a little of the fat in your beef when eating a good steak. I started eating the fat off my striploin for the last year. The trick here to eat in moderation but it’s now alright to enjoy a little of this “bad” stuff!
So far, it hasn’t resulted in any weight gain for me. In fact, because fat takes longer to digest, I stay full for longer. So guess what? If you give this a try, the good news is you shouldn’t’ be reaching as quickly for your next snack out of hunger!
Guess what else I have up to in my kitchen? I can’t believe that I rendering and saving some of the fat in grass-fed beef for cooking! I’ve another good reason for doing this. Remember these three letters: CLA. They stand for Conjugated Lenoic Acid. The best and most natural sources of CLA are in grass fed animal fats. While commercial sources in the form of supplements are usually derived from vegetable oils, CLA from grass fed animal fats are supposed to be the most effective.
According to various research reports, the beneficial properties of CLA include weight loss – in other words, eat fat to lose fat! According to a number of studies, CLA is supposed to increase your resting metabolic rate i.e., the rate at which you burn calories, even if you are sitting still or lying down. Simply put, you will burn more calories while sitting still if you have been consuming CLA.
Additional studies being conducted are assessing CLA’s hypothesized benefits in improving immune system functions, decreasing heart disease, reducing Type II diabetes risk and allergies, and even improving muscle strength. I can’t wait to see what these studies find and will share them with you as they emerge.
Thank you for reading my third blog. :)