The quick answer: Most of what you were told about dietary fat was crazy wrong. You need fat, so here’s a simple rule: Enjoy traditional fats; avoid modern factory fats.
Word of Wisdom Living—so wisely named—presents 52 Healthy Changes based on 13 themes visited once per quarter (card players know that 4 x 13 = 52).
For this week’s theme of “fat” here's the healthy change history:
#2: Never buy deep fat fried foods. This isn’t just because most are still cooked in hydrogenated oil—though that’s reason enough—but also because the oils are damaged (oxidized, etc.) by protracted heat exposure. Read more here and here.
#15: Include omega-3 fats in each meal. It’s crazy that omega-3s are the most abundant fats on the planet (they’re in everything green, even algae, and in whatever eats those green plants) yet are the most deficient fat in our diet. It’s just crazy. Read more here
#28: Limit chips to national holidays, or for scooping a healthy dip or salsa.
#41: Eat traditional fats like butter and (California) olive oil—today's topic.
The two fats we eat most in our home are butter and olive oil. Each has an honored place in food tradition, they’re even Biblical, yet both were shoved aside in the last century by factory food-like products. Butter was displaced by margarine, which was falsely claimed to be healthier. Olive oil was replaced by “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils”, a chemically refined product also wrongly advertised as healthy. The world was tipped upside down through modern advertising.
Read more about the anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and pro-cardiovascular benefits of olive oil in the post titled Olive Oil 101. I prefer the U.S. olive oils (mostly from California) because they’re usually fresher and less adulterated. Taste or smell the imported stuff—I fear those sneaky Europeans are sending us their trash.
We enjoy butter and eat it without guilt. In a past post I made an eye-opening visit to the butter aisle of our local grocery. The newest products in this aisle are the "spreads" that try to replace margarine—I avoid both.
Here’s another reason to enjoy butter—butyric acid, a short-chain, 4-carbon, saturated fat (also known as butyrate) offers anti-cancer properties. Butter is the main dietary source of butyric acid, containing 3-4%.
Worried about getting fat from butter? When certain rats are fed high-fat diets they get real fat. But if butyrate is included, even though it’s a fat, they don’t. Pretty interesting because who would have thought that eating butter might help humans avoid adding fat? Butyrate also reduces inflammation, insulin levels (while improving insulin sensitivity), and the risk of metabolic syndrome.
While on the subject of butter, we should address the fat in dairy products. I like milk—the more natural the better—but shun the low-fat varieties. It’s revealing that America got fat while eating low-fat food substitutes. It’s just Orwellian. A Harvard study noted in this post on milk linked consumption of low-fat dairy with increased infertility in women. My thinking is anything that reduces women’s fertility can’t be healthy.
Please comment: Want to know what makes us fat? It's not from eating fat, but from our addiction to sugar in processed foods. Share your thoughts on healthy fats.