I often get asked about fat free diets and what is a good vs. bad fat. Also, people don’t seem to know what a serving truly is. So, I have put together some info for you today that is short and sweet and easy to remember. You can even print this and keep it in your kitchen to use as a guideline.
We need healthy fats for our brain, skin and other organs, as well as our immune system, to function well. In fact, contrary to what you may have heard, healthy fats can help you lose weight! Yes, you heard that right.
First, here are the fats to remove from your pantry and not use:
Canola, corn, soybean, grapeseed, safflower, peanut oil, and palm oil, should all be avoided as they’re highly processed, usually genetically modified, and they contribute to inflammation due to their fatty acid profiles. Look at the labels of products you buy, like bread and cereal, and make sure you are not getting these unhealthy oils from anywhere else, either.
PLEASE toss out anything hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. The chemical process that is used for these takes vegetable oils and turns them into solid fats (like margarine and vegetable shortening). This turns those oils into trans fats, which are not good for our bodies at all as they raise bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol, and are linked to inflammation.
Remember, eating meat or poultry that has been fed GMO grains is going to affect your body when you digest it, so be cautious about your source of protein as well.
Now for the good stuff:
Use coconut oil, avocado oil, or ghee (clarified butter) for cooking, due to their higher smoke points, which means they maintain a stable composition when heated. If you use a less stable oil like walnut oil when cooking, it will quickly change its structure and the resulting oxidation will cancel out any naturally occurring beneficial compounds. Coconut oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides, which are great for increased energy. Avocado oil is a great source of antioxidants like lutein, which supports eye function, along with types of fat that benefit the heart.
Organic extra-virgin cold-pressed oils like flaxseed oil, walnut oil, sesame seed oil, are much better for drizzling on food. They’re rich in unsaturated fats, making them a poor choice for cooking, but wonderful for drizzling and topping a wide variety of dishes. Olive oil is great for the heart thanks to its monounsaturated fats, while flax, walnut, and sesame oils all provide anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. I use sesame oil for sprinkling on fish, chicken and some salads and I love the taste!
Nut butter from almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pecans or seed butter like tahini and sunflower seed butter are delicious sources of good fats. They can be eaten with a spoon, used in many of your favorite recipes, and even on a sandwich. Make sure to read the label so you are sure there is no added sugar. Almond butter and fruit sweetened jam replaced PBJ’s in my house a long time ago!
My colleague Dr. Mark Hyman recommends 5-7 servings of fat per day, if you are at least moderately active. Now, you may ask – how much is a serving? Good question and here’s the answer.
For the fats mentioned above that are best for cooking, a serving is 1-2 tablespoons. When it comes to the oils from nuts and seeds that are great for drizzling, 1 tablespoon is a serving. One serving of avocado would be ½ of a large one, or a whole small avocado; a serving of nuts, seeds, olives, and coconut milk is about ¼ cup. Use this info as a guideline, and, as always, listen to your body.
Best of Health,