A recent study has reminded me just how altered our societal views on fats in foods have become.  Fats are often demonized as the reason for obesity and heart disease and cholesterol rising, but the reality is much more complex than that.  The term fats can be applied to anything with the chemical structure of fat meaning containing lipids.  However not all lipids are created the same and some, usually ones that are actually not recommended by main stream science are the ones we need the most of.  As with most health topics, much of what has made it to major media has been altered and pushed forward because it supports large financial interests over true nutritional ones.


     Many fats are good fats; in fact some like pasture raised meaning grass fed butter like Kerry Gold from Ireland are great fats and should be a major part of everyone’s daily diet.  Of course, this is the point where many begin to mentally panic, remembering every time their doctor has warned them about saturated fats including butter as being a primary culprit in heart disease and clogged arteries.  However, butter is not the reason arteries get clogged, especially apparent if you consider health history.  Before 1920, there was no heart disease of a significant nature in this country.  In fact, the makers of the EKG reportedly came to the US looking to sell their invention to every hospital, doctor’s office and clinic they could find but found instead very little interest as the physicians could not see the reason for needing it.  Coincidentally, pre-1920, the per capita butter consumption in the US was 18 pounds per year.  That is over a pound per month per person.  The only other fat used in cooking at the time was lard rendered from animals that were of course fed an all organic pastured diet (something now sold as a luxury).  Vegetable oils were not used because an inexpensive process to press and package them had not yet been perfected, and as packaged food was not yet popular; there was no need for preserving foods to sit on a shelf for months at a time.  Consequently, there was no heart disease to speak of and yet the only fats being consumed were butter and lard.  Fast forward fifteen years and heart disease has made a more prominent appearance and amazingly, so have processed and packaged foods and vegetable oils. 


     Vegetable oil fats have a lot of issues.  The good ones like olive oil are only good for people when they have been recently cold pressed, stored away from light as to avoid oxidation and consumed in a short amount of time.  Olive oil doesn’t stand heating very well and therefore should be used for low temperature cooking and on salads or drizzled on top of cooked or cold foods.  Sunflower oil can be used if pressed recently as well, and stored in a cool dark place.  Sesame oil has many good uses, but the same considerations should be given to time of pressing and storage conditions as well.  Coconut oil offers a refreshing source of both good cooking and nutritive raw oil for use in smoothies and desserts alike.  Coconut oil unlike sesame, sunflower and olive oil contains medium chain triglycerides and therefore in the body, it is used immediately for energy, not requiring the digestive function of bile from the gallbladder to be processed.  The end result is high energy oil that has elements that are antiviral and metabolism balancing as well.  Corn oil should be used sparingly if at all, it is not an ideal food and is one that should be considered highly processed.  Canola oil is something I do not even consider a food.  Canola comes from the canola plant, which is not a natural plant, it is one genetically modified from the rape seed plant.  To make canola oil, the extracted seed oil is pressed and turns out a lovely gray color with an apparently awful odor; therefore, it is chemically washed, deodorized, and colored before being packaged as an ideal health food for those concerned about heart disease.  But remember, oils like this have not been in use long and in the time that they have been in use, heart disease has only continued to rise, unlike the situation when butter and lard were the primary fats consumed. 


     Beyond vegetable oils, society at large has come to believe that when it comes to dairy, skim or non fat are the best, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Milk can be a great nourishing food but only when used in its whole form, from cows fed only on grass and ideally when raw.  Otherwise, it is best avoided completely because deviation from these specific conditions even when labeled organic means that the product being consumed is one filled with inflammatory producing agents.  The fats in dairy are where all of the fat soluble nutrients are found, mostly vitamin D, some vitamin K, and in the case of purely grass fed cows also naturally occurring DHA.  Once the fats are removed, so are the essential nutrients needed for health, to solve this problem, even organic milk sellers add back synthetic versions of the vitamins so that the product contains what consumers expect it to contain.  Low fat anything is poison, all that is left is the naturally occurring sugars and in most cases extra added sugars too many of which do not have to be listed on the label., sugar makes our insulin levels rise, causing increased fat storage, causing inflammatory cascades causing….heart disease.   A population consuming vegetable oils and low fat products are poised to develop heart disease, high cholesterol and even some studies suggest cancer. 



     Fats are essential to brain function, hormonal production, energy production and balance in the body.  Too much fat can cause disease of course but large amounts of good fat sources like pasture raised fully grass fed butter, real lard from pasture raised animals, coconut oil, full fat ideally raw pasture raised dairy and in smaller amounts sesame oil, olive oil and sunflower oil will promote and help sustain health.  Most doctors are educated about nutrition by the same reps who sell them cholesterol medications and their parent companies, therefore they only know what big money wants them to know, which sadly is a formula to create more customers.  Embrace fats with the knowledge that if from the right sources your health will be enhanced and supported.   For more resources and studies regarding fats good and bad, I recommend visiting www.westonprice.org and www.mercola.com.  Both sites have impressive articles citing all of the research done on the role of fats in the body and how major medicine has misled the population as a whole about what constitutes good fats and how those good fats promote health.

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