Fat is a huge part of life for me, and not because it makes people huge. Ooooh, yeaaahhh, I love the stuff, and not simply because it makes everything taste so much better. Garlic sauteed in butter, pancakes sizzling in coconut oil, salads doused with generous helpings of a high-quality olive oil based dressing, my daily dose of fish oil . . . I could go on and on. In other words, dietary fat is a delicious necessity, making otherwise hollow meals tasty, as well as performing some important functions within your body that makes the food you eat even better for you. Fat breaks down slowly, helping you feel full and suppressing hunger for far longer than food with no fat. You can eat more of particular kinds of fat than you’ve likely been led to believe, but there are some caveats to keep in mind.
Firstly, animal fat is awesome for several reasons, among them its stability in high heat cooking, for the essential nutrients it contains like Vitamin D and A, and for its role in brain and neurotransmitter function. However, substances like heavy metals, toxins, growth hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, and even negative emotions (due to the hormones produced under stress) are concentrated in fats. Therefore it’s pretty important that you buy grass-fed animal products whenever possible. These animals have theoretically been spared the toxic stress and cheap diet of factory farmed animals, an energetic and nutritional legacy which will live on in your body. For omnivores, vegans, and vegetarians, coconut oil is an incredibly useful cooking tool, notwithstanding its myriad uses outside the kitchen (as moisturizer, massage oil, deodorant, et cetera).
Any fat that is heated to its smoke point and beyond is toxic whether eaten or inhaled as smoke during cooking. Higher proportions of saturated fat in cooking oil equate to safer cooking because of higher smoke points. Instead of vegetable oils, even the popular olive, use coconut oil, lard, ghee, butter, or sustainably harvested palm oil. Polyunsaturated fats, which have been pushed by the USDA and its associates for decades, including corn, canola, safflower, and soybean oils, are unstable and far more subject to rancidity. Ironically, they are generally extracted using high-heats and chemical solvents like hexane (food-grade petroleum product), meaning they are rancid before they are even packaged, and thus NOT good for you, just good for the sellers of this cheap stuff. Rancid oils wreak havoc in your body, turning off tumor-suppressing genes and making you more prone to cancer. There is no doubt a deeply-forged link between our society’s obsession with cheaply produced and widely available vegetable oils and our exploding cancer rates.
Our hormones, i.e. estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol, are made from cholesterol. On a low-fat diet, our bodies redirect cholesterol from our endocrine system in order to repair the brain and help it function, meaning our bodies cannot maintain hormonal balance.
Your liver manufactures 75% of the cholesterol you need while you obtain the rest from food. If you starve your body of fat, your liver will work far harder to produce it, releasing extra insulin which heads into the bloodstream in order to make cholesterol, as well as the triglycerides you need for energy. Low-fat diets can thus cause high cholesterol while your liver works itself into a distressed state.
Lastly, if you do nothing else for your health, take fish oil. Its ability to reduce inflammation plays a huge role in disease prevention, helping thin the blood, easing arthritis, and lowering risk of heart attack and stroke. Omega-3s increase the lifespan of cells, slowing aging as well as its frequently accompanying demons like alzheimers, macular degeneration, and sagging skin. It’s extremely important to make sure that it’s a high-quality fish oil, though, certified to have the PCBs removed. If you can taste fishiness in it, the PCBs and heavy metals still remain, too.