As I seek to steward my family’s health, one of the things I have endeavored to do is to learn more about nutrition. Living intentionally in this area is a must, especially when there are so many opinions out there on what is and is not healthy. I think it’s so sad that we have to work so hard to know what we should be feeding our family only to find out later that the latest fad causes cancer or heart problems or addiction or … you fill in the blank. It’s crazy really.
One area I have put some thought and research into is fat. Good? Bad? Low fat? Full fat? What about fat does my family need?
After much research, I have learned that the truth is – fat is not bad for you.
I have many dear friends who cringe when I tell them I don’t do low fat.
I drink full fat milk.
I use full fat sour cream.
I use lots of coconut oil.
I use butter. Lots of butter.
We consume avocados by twos and threes.
The Fall of Fat
We live in a culture that frowns upon weight. We all try to be skinny and look like the next top model. We diet and diet and diet. Some brainiac saw an increase in obesity when fast food restaurants and convenience food came into higher demand and said,
It’s FAT! FAT is making people FAT! We should all stay away from FAT!
The fat craze really hit its high in the 90’s.
However, what the brainiac failed to do was explain what kind of fat he was talking about. So, let me explain it to you.
Our bodies should be fed three important elements: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. They should be consumed in thirds.
- One third of our diet should be protein – organically raised meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds.
- One third of our diet should be carbohydrates – whole fruits, sweet potatoes, plain yogurt, leafy green vegetables (notice I didn’t say grains).
- One third of our diet should be fat – discussed below.
These are the three types of food that our bodies require in order to function properly. To eliminate any one of these three, you force your body to function without all the essential parts.
Fat is not good for nothing.
- Fat contributes to the absorption of important vitamins and minerals.
- Fat aids in digestion.
- Fat helps build immunity.
- Fat helps build cell walls.
Though proteins and carbohydrates are pretty clear cut, fat is a complex little booger.
Asa Andrews says in his book Empowering Your Health:
You have major categories of fatty acids – saturated fat, unsaturated fat, partially saturated fat (commonly known on food labels as partially hydrogenated fat), and poly and monounsaturated fat. Another sub-categorization of fats designates them as omega-3, -6, or -9 fats. It can get a little difficult to decipher which of these are healthy fats.
You’re telling me. When I first read that, I thought, “How on earth will I ever get this all straight?”
Unfortunately, not all fat is good for you. The brainiac mentioned above was on to something when he said that fat makes you fat. However, it all depends on what kind of fat you are eating. Consuming the wrong kinds of fat can wreck havoc on our bodies.
Fats that should be avoided:
- All hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils – Hydrogenation alters important physical properties. When partial hydrogenation occurs, some molecules in the chain transform into trans fats. Trans fats are not good for you due to its contribution to several types of circulatory diseases. Manufacturers manipulate fat in this way so they can make more for cheaper and ensure a longer shelf life; therefore, getting their money’s worth (i.e., margarine, which has a fascinating history by the way) . Animal fats are far more expensive to manufacture. However, we should not mess with how our bodies were designed to consume fat for mere sake of convenience.
- Corn, safflower, sunflower, and soybean oils, especially when refined or heated. These oils are high in Omega-6 fats. Ideally, we would consume equal amounts of Omega-3 fats and Omega-6 fats. However, the American diet causes the scale to tip toward Omega-6 fats (pardon the pun). For example, in safflower oil, the ratio of Omega-6 fats to Omega-3 fats is 77:1 – a far cry from our ideal 1:1 ratio.
- Fats and oils heated to very high temperatures in processing and frying (especially vegetable oils) – Oils that break down under high heats and transform into trans fats, which we just learned contributes to circulatory diseases among other things, should be avoided. If your oil smokes, don’t use it because this is a sign of damage or oxidization. Oxidized fats contribute to cancer and heart disease.
Weston A. Price Foundation (a great resource for health information) says the fats mentioned above can cause:
- heart disease
- immune system dysfunction
- learning disabilities
- growth problems
Eating diets rich in these kinds of fats just doesn’t seem too appealing with those kind of statistics.
Remember good fat should make up one third of your overall diet. The following are the fats I use for my family’s diet.
- Fats from grass-fed cattle, sheep, bison, and other game.
- Butter and cream from grass fed cows.
- Egg yolks from pastured chickens
- Fish oils (preferably wild), especially cod-liver oil
- Extra-virgin Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Nuts & Seeds
A note about saturated fats. This is the fat most talked about by doctors and physicians as being artery clogging. They say stay far, far away. But should we?
Here are some facts I found:
- Saturated fat makes up half of our cell membranes.
- Saturated fats like that found in coconut oil, actually raises HDL (good cholesterol).
- If you eat too much saturated fat, your body converts it to monounsaturated fat, which lowers LDL and leave HDL alone.
- Butter, which is a good source of Vitamin A and D, contains saturated butyric acid, which fights cancer.
- Saturated fats are easy to digest and do not have to be emulsified first by bile acids; therefore, they are used directly for energy rather than stored as fat.
- As a matter of fact, the saturated lauric acid found in coconut oil actually increases metabolism.
- Additionally, saturated fat is required for the absorption of calcium and other minerals.
The truth is that this post only scratches the surface of my findings on fat. I am convinced that fat is not bad for us; however, we must be educated on what kinds of fats we should be consuming on a daily basis.
My hope is that this article has whet your appetite to explore fats on your own. I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, or even an expert on this topic, but I am a concerned wife and mom who is trying to care for the health of her family by the tools God has so graciously provided. I would love to hear your thoughts!
Also, tomorrow I will be sharing with you more specifically about what kinds of fats we use, and I have a giveaway for you! It’s a good one, so come back tomorrow to learn more about how to incorporate fats into your diet and learn about a product we use and love.
Here are some resources to help you explore the benefits of adding good quality fats to your dietand where (not all but) most of my information comes from.
Know Your Fats – Weston A. Price Foundation (scroll down to the bottom for lots of wonderful articles)
This post contains my referral link. Please see my disclosure policy here.