What Is It With Fats?

Dr. Ariel OrtizWhat Is It With Fats?

Oils and fats

If you have been under the low-fat craze, you need to know that you would be making a mistake. Some fats are essential for life. You´ll just need to learn the difference between healthy and non-healthy oils and fats.

  • Vegetable oils. These oils come naturally from plants and are high in good fats, but (and it is a big but…) most are very fragile; exposure to heat, daylight, oxygen, and processing destroy these good fats and convert them into inflammatory compounds. Vegetable oils are best used cold. Some like olive oil or avocado may be used to sautéed or cook at low to medium heat. Coconut oil is a safe bet for cooking or cold use. Refined vegetable oils like sunflower, canola and soybean (unrefined or refined) should be avoided. Other vegetable oils are nuts and seeds; these should be included in the diet. For any oils, limit the amount you take.
  • Animal fat. Animal fat is high in saturated fat, making it very stable under heat and an excellent choice for cooking or even frying. Grass-fed animal fat may be packed with good fats like omega-3 and CLA and vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, factory raised animal fats should be avoided; fat protects the animal´s organs (and our own) by storing toxins coming from the diet and the environment, this type of fat is filled with pesticides, antibiotics and unwanted compounds. Grass-fed beef (tallow), lamb, and pig fat are good choices for high heat cooking. Pasture-raised chicken, duck and goose fats are ok as long as you make sure they ate an omnivorous diet instead of corn and soy.
  • Processed fats. These are Saturated and Trans fat. The first shares its classification with animal fats, since most saturated fats originate from animals but are also found also in chocolate, butter, some nuts and coconut. Saturated fats should be limited to 20g/day regardless of its origin. This type of fat may be either beneficial or detrimental to your health. For animal fats, always choose grass-fed animals and eliminate processed meats like pepperoni. Trans fats are originated from manufacturing processes to increase shelf life; this one ingredient is one of the few that has a 0g/day recommendation. Just a bit will increase your risk of dangerous conditions including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Identify in the ingredient list any of these words: “partially hydrogenated,” “fractionated,” or “hydrogenated”. The higher up the phrase “partially hydrogenated oil” is on ingredient´s list, the more trans fat the product contains.

 Make good decisions

When choosing fats, the key words are toxin-free quality fats and proper handling (limit the exposure to light and air, don´t let oils burn, use the correct oil for the temperature of cooking). All fats should be taken in limited portions, since all fats, healthy or not, are high in calories.


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