Well, maybe not all fat, and I guarantee that the title of this post is not something you will often see – especially at the beginning of a new year! This is when everyone is talking and writing about losing weight, getting healthy, and cutting fat. I agree that this is a time to have a fresh start, make resolutions if you see fit, and rethink how we eat and generally live our lives. What I don't agree with are all the "fad" diets and exercise programs that rear their ugly heads this time of year. It seems like everywhere you turn – radio, TV, computer – there are ads for the latest and greatest way to get healthy. I believe that if we educate ourselves, and commit to a life of moderation in all things, we will be healthier than ever. And that goes for eating and cooking with fat!
I can't begin to claim that I am a pro at either healthy eating, or a healthy lifestyle. Yes, we grow a lot of our own food, drink our own raw milk, I prefer to utilize natural healing and remedies, and we work the farm and dairy. But ... we like to eat and I like to cook. We try to be moderate, but because we like these things, it means that there is always some new temptation for us to try. There is always that new recipe or idea that inevitably contains some sort of ingredient that we really shouldn't be eating.
So we (I) need to rethink how we eat, and what and how I cook. One of the first places I will start in this new year is to learn a little more about fats. I know some of the basics – trans-fats are bad, vegetable oil is bad, soy is horrible – but after a little research I have found that there are a few fats that we actually need to be using in our diets. Here is a bit of what I am finding out:
Fat Is Good
There are such things as "good fats," and they are just as important as protein in our diet. They are essential for helping the body to absorb nutrients from the foods we eat. They supply an efficient source of energy, and they help our cell membranes and hormones properly develop. Good fats are also carriers for many of the vitamins that we tend to be deficient in – vitamins A, E and K. These good fats also help us to utilize vitamin D, which the majority of us show as a deficiency when eating the modern diet. These vitamin deficiencies can lead to all sorts of health concerns, as well as just feeling lousy.
Most of our diets contain an excessive amount of omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 is found primarily in safflower, sunflower, corn, soy and cottonseed oils. And these are the most inexpensive, readily available oils that are used in food manufacturing in the United States. Vegetable oil and shortening are two of the biggest offenders when it comes to these types of fats. To counteract this influx of omega-6 in our diets, we must make sure to intake a balance of omega-3 oils. These can be easily found, but you may have to rethink your way of cooking and eating to get enough of them. Omega-3's are found in flaxseed and fish oils, and are most often ingested through supplements. They can also be gained through eating fish, although there are many concerns with mercury in our fish sources and wild-caught, fresh fish should be sought where possible.
If you think about natural fats – butter (especially if made at home from raw milk) and rendered lard – these are something that your body understands, and they are possibly some of the best fats. Because both of these fats come from natural sources, your body knows how to process them. If you have access to raw milk and can make your own butter, or grow your own pigs to render your own lard, you will be assured of knowing exactly what is in these products.
You CAN Eat and Cook With Oil
There is no need to completely cut fat and oil from your diet. As a matter of fact, as I mentioned above, some fats are good for us. When it comes to the fat we use for cooking, natural fats and oils contain components that promote good health rather than adding toxins into our body. These healthful, saturated fats do not become rancid as easily, and do not irritate our arteries or initiate cancer.
The best of the good oils is coconut oil. This healthful, saturated fat has properties that are anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. This easily digested and absorbed oil helps to support immune system function, supplies important nutrients and nutrient absorption, and helps to improve digestion. A wealth of information on coconut oil can be found from a multitude of sources on the Internet and in books. It is most important to look for unrefined coconut oil that will last for up to two years. Coconut oil has a high burning point, making it the perfect oil for cooking. It can also be taken in 1- to 2-tablespoon doses to aid digestion.
And as mentioned before, natural fats such as homemade butter and rendered lard are also beneficial to our diets.
You Make the Choice
So as you start this new year, don't just keep doing what you have been doing all along. It's a great time to think of changing how you eat, how you feed your family and how you maintain your health. Read and learn as much as you can; arm yourself with knowledge. Remember, there are really no true experts. Every one will have an opinion, just as I do with this post, but it is ultimately up to you to make the decisions for your own well being!
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