Hello SOTGC community,
Let’s face it. We love fatty foods. It tastes good. It fills us up. It comforts us. And yet, not only are we familiar with the message that fat is bad, we’ve also become conditioned into thinking ALL fat is BAD. The truth is, we need fat for the cells in our body to function. Not all fat is bad. Before condemning and banishing fat from your diet, ask a few simple questions.
Question #1: What kind and how much fat am I ingesting in my diet?
When deciding whether you want to ingest a fat source, focus on fat concentration and fat quality content. We make the mistake of focusing on the amount of fat, when the type of fat is equally important. It is easy to recognize deep fried foods as having a concentrated fat content that is not supportive to health. In the plant-based world, nuts and seeds are also high in fat content. But the quality of the fat is what makes it a healthy choice. We may initially shy away due to its fat quantity aspect, but as a source of “healthy fats,” the omega 3 and 6 fatty acid quality component encourages us to include seeds and nuts in our diet.
Question #2: What am I doing with the fat?
Eating the fat, cooking with fat, and storing the fat in our kitchens are all important aspects to assess. Seeds and nuts, as mentioned, are a healthy fat source, rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Fish oil supplements and fish are another rich source of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acid. When we cook with oils, it is important to know the kind of oil being used and how it is stored. Certain oils (ie. flax seed oil) must be stored at cooler temperatures and away from light. Other oils like olive and canola are stable at room temperature. Oils designed for high-heat cooking include coconut, peanut, and high oleic safflower. Medium-heat cooking oils include olive, corn and hazelnut oils. Other oils such as almond, and sesame oil should only be used for low-heat cooking or as a drizzle to dress the food. Oil is sensitive to heat, and excess temperatures can alter the chemical composition thereby introducing unhealthy by-products giving rise to a toxin burden for the body to clear.
Principle #3: What is the overall status of my health and how does fat support it?
Our stress levels, medical health history, and our lifestyle activities impact how much and what type of fat we need. Someone with a family history of heart disease on their third round of bypass surgery will have different dietary fat quantity and quality needs from their diet compared to the high performance cyclist riding several hundred miles a day. Metabolic demands affect how our bodies handle fat intake. Someone working 60 hours a week at a desk job will need to assess their fat intake differently as compared to someone caring for active toddlers at a daycare center.
We know that sometimes reducing dietary fat doesn’t always correlate to improved health, and can sometimes be detrimental. The takeaway here is the importance of discernment when it comes to dietary fat. This week, as you find yourself reaching for a bowl of pecans, a piece of buttered toast, sautéed versus steamed veggies, an angus steak versus a bison steak, before judging fat as bad, practice fat discernment. Ask yourself, what is the quantity of fat in this food source, what is the quality of the fat source, and what is the fat doing for my body?
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