If a client meets with me for just one session, you can be assured that, for nearly every person, a priority on their list of recommendations will be transitioning to only healthy fats in their kitchen. In fact, I urge them to throw away the rest because of how harmful unhealthy fats can be to their health (but more on that in a minute).
There are a lot of opinions about what a healthy fat is, so the following recommendations are based on the research that I have done through my master’s program at the University of Western States and years of experience with my own body.
Before I go on to make these recommendations, I want to shed some of my philosophy on food itself. Whenever I am in doubt about a recommendation or new or trendy food on the market, I always ask myself, “Is this something my great great grandmother would recognize as a ‘real’ food?”, “Is it something I could make myself in a traditional way without the use of machines and chemical stabilizers?” If the answer is yes, and I am not allergic to that food, I will likely eat it. This is one of the bases for the following recommendations.
So what are these, so-called, healthy fats?
The following are the top 4 fats which I recommend regularly to clients due to their health properties and availability at most grocery stores. This is not an all-inclusive list, but these are the staples in my kitchen and I wanted to share.
- Coconut Oil – You probably have heard a ton about this healthy cooking fat from friends and family or via social media outlets. It’s all the rage in health conscious circles, and for good reason. This stable, high-temp cooking fat is full of medium chain tryglycerides (MCT’s) which are easily converted to energy and less likely to be store in the body in our fat reserves (everything in moderation of course). The refined version of coconut oil (my favorite can be found here), does not taste like coconut and can be used in nearly every form of cooking. I personally use it every time I make fry eggs and when I make brownies, I replace any vegetable oil (see below for oils to throw out) with coconut oil. It doesn’t change the taste or texture of the dish. I even like to make chocolate with coconut oil! It’s healthier and WOW, is it tasty. If you search recipes on this blog you will see that I use coconut oil for a lot of my recipes.
- Grass-Fed Butter or Ghee – Yes, it has to be grass-fed. Butter and ghee are both traditional fats that have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years by our ancestors. The difference between most of the butter you find at the market today is that the cow’s health is not quite as good as it was for previous generations. That is because the quality of fat found in the milk of a cow is directly correlated to its diet (we are what we eat and so are the animals that we eat!). A study done on grass-fed versus grain-fed beef in 2010, suggested there is more omega-3 fats found in the grass-fed animals. These healthy omega-3’s, along with a list of other beneficial nutrients, will be found in higher quantities in grass-fed beef and dairy products. Not to mention, grass-fed cows are typically treated more humanely which is reason enough for me to opt for this version.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – I don’t think this one takes much convincing as most people do keep this fat on hand and use it often. Try to buy organic varieties of this oil that are stored in tinted glass as the quality is better and glass doesn’t leach toxins into the fat like plastic will.
- Cold oils like sesame, walnut, flax and avocado oil – These oils are perfect for cold uses such as on salads or to top steamed veggies after they are cooked. Because most of them are so high in omega-3’s you do want to avoid heating the to high temperatures.
These are the fats that I would throw away immediately. They include any, industrially processed oils and are high in omega-6’s, a particular kind of fat which, in excess, can promote inflammation and disease. A big focus in reducing inflammation should be around limiting omega-6’s in the diet. Throwing away these cooking fats will go a long way in doing that!
- Vegetable Oil (especially any that is “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated”)
- Corn Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Butter or Lard that is not grass-fed and/or organic
- Non-organic canola oil (some organic canola is probably OK in moderation)
- Palm oil (not because it’s unhealthy, but more because it’s unsustainable)
Got questions? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!