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Which fats do you use? Buyer beware

Over the years, fats have received a bad rap. As we learn more about how fats affect our bodies, researchers have determined that fats are actually good for you, and needed for daily function, such as: To give your body energy, support cell growth, protect your organs, to help your body absorb some valuable nutrients – such as vitamins A, D, E and K, and to produce important hormones for healthy growth and aging.

Not all fats are good for all uses, and we have become so accustomed to picking up Canola and Vegetable oils, that too often we overlook some of the tastiest and healthiest fats.

Here are how some fats compare:

Butter – It’s more natural than margarine, as it’s made from one ingredient: whole milk. No artificial ingredients or colourings are used in the making of real butter. Butter is rich in Vitamin A, which is necessary for thyroid and adrenal health. It contains lauric acid, important in treating fungal infections and candida (the main culprit for yeast infections, alcohol cravings). Butter is easy to make, which allows for you to control the milk quality and freshness, amount of salt used, preservatives, and additives used. Mix in your own herbs and garlic for an added excitement!

Margarine – It was created in the 1800s when butter became expensive and scarce. After butter received a “bad-fat” rap and became a no-no, margarine magically became the hero. Margarine can be a healthy choice, unfortunately due to its popularity and high market competition, manufacturers add too many colourings and use low-quality oils such as canola (a highly genetically-modified weed plant).

The worst to buy are the margarine “sticks”, which are high in trans fat (the ingredient that keeps them from melting back into the 80% oil product that they are).

Ghee – Whereas butter contains butterfat, milk solids and water, ghee is pure butterfat cooked longer, until all moisture is removed and the milk solids are caramelized and then filtered out. While butter is not necessarily bad for you, ghee has health benefits that make it healthier than butter – especially that it’s lactose and casein free. Ghee is rich in vitamins A, D and E (most needed during winter time as our body doesn’t naturally produce it), K2, conjugated linoleic acid (said to help reduce tumors, lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and actually lower body fat, improves digestion). Ghee tastes like butter, but actually “butterier”, due to its process, so less is required for taste.

Coconut oil – Although coconut oil is rated as being high in saturated fats, not all saturated fats have the same biochemical effect on the body – and they’re not all bad for you. Coconut oil is very high on lauric acid, which increases HDL (healthy cholesterol – the one you want to be high). Coconut oil can be used in high temperature cooking without its good fat qualities being broken down – a benefit not too many oils have. Delicious on toast, and used for stir-fries, greasing baking pans, and baking in general to replace butter.

Avocado oil – Similar to olive oil in nutritional profile, but with a much milder flavour and with a high smoke point (great for all kinds of high-temperature cooking). This buttery-flavoured oil is beneficial to cardiovascular health, as well as for healthy aging and eye care.

Grapeseed oil – Rapidly growing as one of the favourite oils to use, grapeseed oil is high in linoleic acid levels, which can lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, while helping to increase lean body mass and reduce fat in the midsection. Similarly healthy to olive oil, only that it’s much better to use for high-temperature cooking.

Olive oil – Studies continue to find it as one of the healthiest fats to consume: It has strong anti-inflammatory properties, which helps reduce swelling and even pain. It’s rich in monounsaturated fat, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease. It will burn easily at high temperatures – it’s best recommended for low-temperature cooking and for drizzling on veggies and salads.

Sesame Oil – Deliciously nutty and highly nutritious, sesame oil has been shown to help lower blood pressure, boost heart health, even remove dental plaque. Delicious on toast and as a raw oil in salad dressings.

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Article originally appeared in our Silver and Gold magazine Winter 2017 issue. Click for more articles!

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