In today’s world, it seems like “experts” tell you contradictory information every day. One day, coffee is healthy, and the next, you MUST quit immediately.
FATS are one of the most confusing topics of discussion.
People started avoiding butter and started buying margarine. They found out that Crisco made their cookies fluffier, and now that famous blue can is found in most pantries! They were told that eggs are not healthy and replaced them with egg beaters! Even the healthiest of oils – coconut oil – has recently been slammed as unhealthy, while canola oil (which is one of the worst), was touted as healthy.
The term “fats” and “fatty acids” can be used interchangeably. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their composition. Understanding the difference between them boils down to chemistry. We are going to try and make it as simple as possible without getting into diagramming detailed molecules (we will share some images so you can get an idea what we mean), yet we are going to try and be thorough so you understand the “WHY” questions, and not just “because we said so.”
For now, let’s just simplify and say that any fats that are liquid at room temperature are referred to as oils (think olive oil, nut & seed oils, sunflower, avocado, canola, vegetable oils, and even the fat in egg yolks). Fats that are solid are room temperature are typically referred to as fats, plain and simple (think butter, lard, coconut oil, dairy fats, and the fat in meats).
First, let’s consider the question: do we need fats in our diet? The answer is an astounding YES!!
Good fats are healthy fats that are nutrients that exist within both plant foods and animal foods. When eaten in their natural form, they:
- Make your skin glow and keep your hair shiny and supple
- Keep your immune system strong
- Regulate your body temperature and metabolism
- Balance your hormones
- Keep your cell membranes flexible and keep your brain working properly
- Provide insulation for your internal organs and nerves
There are some fats that are considered “essential” fats; you may have heard of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fats offer many positive effects for the body, including:
- Nourishment of skin and hair
- Reduction of blood pressure
- Hormone production
- Lower cholesterol
- Lower triglyceride levels
- Prevention of arthritis and inflammation
- Reduction of the risk of blood clots
- Relieving depression
- Protect body from candida
- Support cardiovascular health
- Help reduce skin issues such as psoriasis and eczema
- Are essential in brain development
- Play a critical role in the transmission of nerve impulses.
It is evident that we need to consume healthy fats in our diets. Our next post will give you some sources for fats, and after that, we will dive into the chemistry of a fat molecule, how cooking oils are processed, which cooking oils are healthiest, how to safely cook with oils, what “trans-fat” means and how they are formed, what free radicals are, and why we must protect our fats at all costs.
Buckle up and enjoy the journey into FATS!