There is still a fear factor when it comes to consuming fat in our diet, but I want to reassure you that not all fats are bad and not all fats are equal. By eating it doesn’t mean you’re going to automatically put weight on and become all soft and squidgy, in fact the opposite happens. Your body uses the fuel as energy and you begin to metabolise your food much better. Even though fat has more calories per gram, it’s actually very satisfying to eat and difficult to over consume.
Surprisingly butter is one of the healthiest fats you can consume, and yes, it’s saturated fat.
Saturated fats have had a real bad rap over the last 35 years, being blamed for clogged arteries, high cholesterol, heart disease and obesity, but this isn’t that case.
Out of the 3 types of fat – monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated. Saturated is the healthiest as it’s made up of short chain triglycerides (plus butter contains butyrate a superfood).
The worst of the above is polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils, rapeseed and peanuts. They’re high in omega 6 which is pro inflammatory. Our western diet is naturally high in this omega and is quite rare to under consume it.
This is why Omega 3 consumption is extremely important as it helps regulate Omega 9 (your cholesterol.) From that research alone you can see why high cholesterol is more common now than ever – not from eating too much saturated fat, but from over consumption of omega 6 polyunsaturated fat.
Margarine is typically made of industrial vegetable oils that have been superheated and pressurised until they hydrogenate, becoming solid at room temperature. Margarine usually has dangerous trans fats and is oxidised and inflammatory. It also often looks and tastes disgusting after hydrogenation, so manufacturers add artificial butter flavouring and yellow coloring. Yuck. Why go to all that trouble when you could just eat good old ‘Kerrygold’ or an equally reputable grass-fed butter.
Grass fed butter is high in omega 3, contains vitamin A, D, E and K, is an anti-oxidant and helps protect against cancer and mental illness.
Along with butter, another saturated fat that’s really beneficial is coconut oil. It has medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which can help promote gut integrity and resolve digestive issues. Coconut oil would also be more stable for use in cooking, and would last longer before going rancid. Below are a few benefits of adding it to your diet.
Heart diseases: There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for heart health. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. In reality, it is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in actively preventing various heart problems like high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
Weight loss: Coconut oil contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and endocrine (hormone) system. Further, it increases the body’s metabolic rate by removing stress on the pancreas, thereby burning more energy. (Notice people living in tropical coastal areas, who use coconut oil every day as their primary cooking oil, are normally not fat, obese or overweight.)
Digestion: When used as cooking oil it helps to improve the digestive system preventing various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. It also helps in the absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
Immunity: Coconut helps strengthen the immune system because it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.
I’m not suggesting you consume saturated fat all day, everyday. I just want to highlight to you the benefits of adding it to your diet with each meal and using it to fuel your body and brain, rather than relying solely on carbohydrates.
If you think back to the cavemen era and hunter-gatherers, our ancestors evolved eating a range of macronutrients that certainly varied by region and diet, but the fatty acid profile of the foods they ate were much different than what the average westerner eats today.
If you are consuming healthful fats, then you can eat a diet that is relatively high in total fat without running into problems.
Grass-fed meat or wild game tends to have a healthful fatty acid profile, whereas most factory-farmed meat is raised on corn, and has a very different fatty acid profile which can lead to elevated cholesterol concentrations.
Avocados contain monounsaturated fatty acids are more likely to be used as slow burning energy than stored as body fat. This gives the feeling of satiety or fullness that you get when eating and is one of the reasons they are known for reducing hunger and appetite.
Studies show that a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates actually cause more weight loss than low fat high carb diets, By including more foods in to your meals that are high in healthy fats and lower in processed carbohydrates, will make a big difference to your body composition and are very effective if you want to lose weight.