Like it or not, fats belong in every meal. Good fats, not bad fats, and moderate amounts of them. Many people have concern about fats in food, but if you don’t understand the difference between the good fats and bad fats, you can’t make good decisions about what to buy.
Bad fats are, of course, the fats that do negative things to our bodies. When you find these by reading labels, put the product back on the supermarket shelf. They are the hard fats found mostly in animal products like butter, fatty meats, and lard. They are also in vegetable oils like coconut and palm oils. They are generally solid at room temperature.
Bad fats are typically:
- Saturated Fats. Fats with high saturated fat content from animal products (fatty meats, lard, cheese, bacon fat, etc.) and some vegetable products, such as coconut oil. Saturated fats are bad fats! Trim all visible fat off your meats before you cook them.
- Pesticide-laden Fats. Fats derived from crops that have been sprayed so heavily with pesticides that the resulting crop should not be consumed. Example: Palm Oil, Cottonseed oil. When you see these oils in the labels of processed food, put the container back on the shelf and buy something else.
- Trans Fats, Hydrogenated, or Partially Hydrogenated Fats. Whatever you call it, trans fats are bad fats! When you see these words in the labels of processed foods, don’t buy them. (Wikipedia explains: “The process of hydrogenation adds hydrogen atoms to unsaturated fats (good fats), making them into partially or completely saturated fats (bad fats). No trans fats are essential fatty acids.” (fats that we need). On the contrary, eating trans fats increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Health authorities all over the world are telling us that we should never eat these things.
The bad fat that we eat is the total grams of saturated fat and trans-fat.
When you see the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated,” put the product back on the shelf of the supermarket and buy something else. Look at the label on your margarine container, and do what you need to do with this product. There are now plenty of margarines with no hydrogenated fats, so spare yourself and your kids from an abbreviated old age.
When you see Palm Oil or Cottonseed Oil as an ingredient, put the product back on the shelf.
Kids are smart. Teach your kids these label-reading tricks to healthier eating. Once they are aware of it and can read for themselves, they will be reading the labels and helping you made good food decisions! At least they will be less likely to beg for the lousy food products.
Good fats tend to come from nuts, seeds, and vegetable products, though not all vegetables produce good fats. Like all fats, good fats can pack pounds onto your body. However, your heart, your arteries, and your brain will be saved in the process from clogged arteries, strokes, and heart attacks.
Swap out all the bad fats from the pantry and replace them with good fats.
Here are some good fats to buy:
- Olive Oil
- Hazelnut Oil
- Almond Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Canola Oil
When we saw the price of these oils at the market, we knew that we would be using less oil; that is, wasting less oil. We use them judiciously because they are too expensive to waste! A little goes a long way. Pretty simple concept.
Many come with wonderful flavors of their own that enhance what you are cooking.
About 6 years ago, we explained all this to our friend with high cholesterol. She decided to stop using bad fats and change to Hazelnut Oil. Within 3 months, she had lowered her LDL (bad) cholesterol by 50 points!
Make your own salad dressings to control exactly what goes into it. See our Simple Salad Dressing recipe. Our kids used to fixate on the Champagne Dressing in the triangular bottle. After awhile, they decided that the lower fat version of the same was OK.
Now that they know about fats (from AP Biology in high school and from Mom), they are fine with the homemade dressing “Simple Salad Dressing.” That’s all we’ve made for years, with the exception of adding some small amounts of pureed fruits to make them “Raspberry Simple Salad Dressing,” “Strawberry Simple Salad Dressing,” or “Mango Simple Salad Dressing.” Use lemon in place of vinegar for a great variation.
There are a myriad of herbs and spices that you can also use to jazz it up. Use your imagination and your taste preferences. Some recommendations: dill, cumin, garlic, oregano, thyme, cayenne (wow), etc.
A great place to get wholesome herbs and herb/spice mixes to flavor your salad dressing and your food is Penzeys Spices. Take a little diversion to their web site to find great mixes like Arizona Dreaming (mix), Sunny Paris Seasoning, and Mural of Flavor, a salt-free mix. You’ll never find 8-syllable chemical names in the ingredients, just the real thing.