The Truth About Fats

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Is Fat Fattening?

Despite the fact that tasteless, fat-free foods are being shoved down the throats of the American public, our country keeps getting fatter and fatter.  Yet the TV keeps trying to convince us that fat-free foods make us thin and healthy.  So, in the futile attempt to do the "right" thing, most people are cutting all the fat out of their diet and wondering why they aren't losing weight.  There are a few reasons for this.

  • Lowfat diets make you hungry.  Have you ever tried a lowfat diet and felt like you were starving to death?  Fat actually sends a signal to your brain to tell you when to stop eating.  So, if you don't get enough fat in a meal, you will never feel completely satisfied and you will usually end up overeating
 
  • Reducing your fat reduces your metabolism.  When you deprive your body of fat, it kicks into "starvation mode" and your metabolism drops accordingly to conserve energy.  When you no longer can stand the lowfat diet and resume your former eating habits, your metabolism has not yet returned to its former levels and you therefore gain more weight back than you lost in the first place
 
  • Low-fat = higher carb. Lowfat diets tend to be higher in carbohydrates, and high-carb diets will trigger the release of insulin, which drops your blood sugar and tells your body to store fat.  Not to mention your energy level drops along with your blood sugar, so you will most likely lack the energy you need to exercise.  Including good fats with every meal helps to keep your blood sugar stable.  This maximizes your metabolism by providing your body with a steady supply of fuel to burn throughout the day
 

The Good Fats

Butter

Butter is a rich source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.  The saturated fat in butter actually enchances our immune function, protects the liver from toxins, provides nourishment for the heart in times of stress, gives stiffness and integrity to our cell membranes, and aids in the proper utilization of omega-3 essential fatty acids.  Butter will add extra nutrients and flavor to your vegetables, whole grain breads, and sauteed dishes.

Tropical Oils: Coconut and Palm

These tropical oils are rich soures of saturated fat, especially lauric acid, which has strong antifungal and antimicrobial properties.  They are extremely stable and can be used in baking, frying, sauteing, and especially for making popcorn.
For further reading:  "The Coconut Oil Miracle" by Bruce Fife, MD

Extra Virgin (Expeller-Pressed) Olive Oil

Olive oil has been used for thousands of years for its many health benefits.  Olive oil is a rich source of antioxidants, relieves the pain and inflammation of arthritis, normalizes blood fats and cholesterol, stimulates strong gallbladder contractions and is known for increasing longevity.  Olive oil can be used for sauteeing at moderate temperatures and is a perfect base for salad dressings.  However, it is important not to use olive oil as your only fat--you need the nutrients found exclusively in animal fats and too much monounsaturated fat without a balance of saturated fats can cause problems.

Animal Fats

Don't forget about animal fats like tallow, lard, chicken, and goose fat.  Tallow is used in traditional cultures for its health benefits.  Tallow is rendered beef fat and is very stable for frying.  Lard is a traditional fat, the mention of which causes us moderns to cringe.  Yet lard has been used by healthy populations for centuries.  Lard is rendered fat from pork and is mostly monounsaturated.  Lard can be a wonderful source of vitamin D.  Traditionally, lard has been used for pastried and frying potatoes - until the vegetable industry took over.

Handy household hint:  If you have leftover tallow from making beef stock, pour into ice cube trays and freeze.  Then pop them into a container, store them in the freezer, and grab one when needed for frying.