Fats and oils are one of the most confusing and misunderstood topics for families today. What is best for me to cook with for my family? If I eat fat I will get fat. Our bodies require fat for muscle development, energy production and to kick our brains into gear every morning. The saturated fat versus polyunsaturated fat is always a big debate between scientists, nutritionists and health practitioners. Which way they lean varies. I am no expert and I can only tell you what I have learned and why I chose the saturated fat side. If we are going to eat any fats it should be mostly in food form. What I mean is, if you’re going to eat saturated fat, eat it in red meats, dairy and coconuts. If you’re going to eat polyunsaturated fats consume them by eating beans, nuts, avocados, eggs etc. Stay away from trans fats in processed foods, fast foods and margarines.
When cooking with oils, I personally always use Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a good quality butter when cooking with oil. Yes these are saturated fats. The assumption has long been that saturated fat is bad for you and should be eliminated from your diet. In saying that, our body is made up of saturated fat, as are the animals we eat and more importantly so is our first food made by our mother herself, breast milk. This surely indicates that our body must require it.
Despite what you may have heard, saturated fats are not the cause of heart disease. A great article on this topic is “Saturated Fat. Good or Bad”, http://www.authoritynutrition.com/saturated-fat-good-or-bad.
There are many nations around the world where coconut is a dietary staple and these people have flourished for many years. Generally at present, people in the Western World eat more polyunsaturated fats than they do saturated fats and we have more heart disease than ever. People tend to believe that polyunsaturated fats like Canola, Safflower, sunflower, soy and corn oils are better for us because they are made from vegetables. There are many negatives to consuming these oils. When they are heated their antioxidants become damaged and oxidised and therefore toxic to our body. This creates free radicals, which is opposite to antioxidants (which we know are good for you) and causes inflammation in our body. They are also sold in plastic bottles and because they are so fragile they are regularly rancid at the time of sale. Any exposure to light can oxidise the oil. This is the reason we see higher quality oils in darker, glass bottles. The crops that are used to make these oils are generally genetically modified and sprayed with herbicides and pesticides.
Cooking with saturated fat does not damage antioxidants and is much less susceptible to heat damage. This is one reason why people are now choosing coconut oil. Not to mention the health benefits. Coconut oil is easily digested and ready to be burned as energy and not stored as fat. The Lauric acid in coconut oil is a compound that promotes health with it’s anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties are good for gut health and immunity. We also find Lauric acid in breast milk, which is why it boosts our baby’s immunity.
When purchasing a coconut oil make sure it is made from fresh coconut, cold pressed and not bleached, deodorised or refined. I know it goes against everything the “low fat” world has taught us. But in my mind, the low fat world hasn’t made us any skinner, decreased diabetes or heart disease. More people have thyroid problems, gut issues, allergies and skin conditions than ever before. Our grandparents ate lard and butter, full cream milk and cheese and their food was fresh and not genetically modified or sprayed with so many poisons. Ask one of your grandparents if they grew up with anyone who had a peanut allergy. Surely they were doing something right.