Are all fats created equal? Well . . . sometimes. But let’s discuss the facts. You’re an adult. You choose.
Each tablespoon of olive, canola, corn, safflower, sesame or coconut oil contains 120 calories and 14 grams of fat. In that regard they are equal. Every oil is 100% fat and takes 5-7 hours to digest in your system.
It’s how fat reacts in your system that’s most important. We need fats to transport the fat soluble vitamins, A,D, E, K throughout our body. Without fat, your skin would get dry, you’d look haggard, be depressed, feel sluggish, your hair would lose its luster and you’d start burning brown fat which cushions your vital organs for energy. The body doesn’t create more brown fat so don’t ever go on a fat-free diet!
A healthy diet should contain a variety of fat, about 15-30% of your daily caloric intake depending on your biochemistry. Most of the time choose monounsaturated fats which are healthier for your body and tend to promote your good HDL cholesterol.
Mono-unsaturated fats: sources include margarine spreads with a canola or olive oil base or oils such as olive, canola and peanut oils, avocado, and nuts such as peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews and almonds.
Polyunsaturated fats, are found in nuts, seeds, soy, sunflower, safflower, corn oil but tend to turn rancid more quickly. So purchase only a small amount which can be used up in a reasonable amount of time.
So what about butter and margarine then?
Butter contains 100 calories and 12 grams of fat and vitamin A, E, D, K, calcium and trace amounts of B vitamins. It’s still saturated fat which clogs your arteries, so use sparely! A better choice is whipped butter which adds air, reducing fat to 6 grams, 50 calories and is easily spreadable.
If choosing margarine, choose soft tub products with no trans fats: Promise, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Earth Balance or any containing less than .05 trans fats. Plant sterol margarine is a bit expensive but contains vital omega 3 fatty acids which reduces bad LDL cholesterol. If you can afford them great, if not, cut down on other fat because I doubt you’d use so much of it it’d make a difference.
So what’s best to place on your toast? Probably an olive oil based soft margarine or plant-based sterol one with omega 3’s or a tiny amount of soft butter. When cooking, try buttery sprays like I Can’t Believe It’s not Butter or Parkay with no cholesterol or saturated fats. I’ll occasionally cook with a teaspoon of real butter for flavor.
Saturated and Trans fats are the ones to avoid whenever possible. They tend to be solid at room temperature. A manufacturer, in order to have less spoilage, added a hydrogen molecule creating “trans fats.” Increasing product shelf life, it’s found in cakes, pies, biscuits, donuts, most peanut butter (Skippy is trans fat free) and baked goods. This added molecule behaves like a saturated fat in your body, turning into a solid; clogging your arteries and raising your LDL and lowering protective HDL.
Saturated fat sources include fatty cuts of meat, full fat milk, cheese, butter, cream, most deep-fried fast foods, coconut and palm oil. Caution: too much of saturated fat, (like cheeseburgers) can really do a number on your arteries! So when you say, “I’m dying for a cheeseburger,” you could mean that literally. Choose lower-fat cheeses whenever possible.
Omega-6 fats are found primarily in nuts, seeds and plant oils such as corn, soy and safflower. I would avoid heating these because that changes their chemical bonds into something less protective.
Omega 3 sources include oily fish, (sardines, tuna, salmon) olives, nuts such as walnuts and brazil nuts, and milled flax seeds. These contain the strongest evidence of reducing heart disease. This is the fat source I highly recommend.
Some of the benefits of omega-3 fats in the diet:
- Reduces inflammation, blood pressure and triglyceride level. It improves blood vessel elasticity, making it less sticky and you looking younger!
- Regulates a strong heartbeat and immune system, reducing cancer cell growth.
- Lowers triglyceride levels, which are important risk factors in coronary heart disease.
- Improves your mood, making you happier.
- Improves the condition of your skin tone, nails and hair.
- Reduces obesity risk by improving the body’s ability to respond to insulin. It stimulates the secretion of the hormone leptin which helps regulate food intake.
Confused yet? Bottom line: ask yourself if this fat substance will basically benefit or hurt me? Eat as naturally as possible and honor God with your choices. Remember, your purpose in life is to honor God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
PS: For a great link to some wonderful healthy, homemade salad dressings, link to my dear blogger friend’s site here: http://farmfoodieandfitness.com/2013/01/29/make-your-own-salad-dressings