Bring Out the Feast: Healthy Fats for the Holidays
With the holidays right around the corner many people are starting to plan the meal that will take center stage in their kitchen and fill the bellies of themselves and those around them. This is a time of family and friendship brought together by a feast of foods. Often, this time of year is followed by New Year’s resolutions of weight loss and getting-back-on-track to healthier eating.
I am here to tell you that you can start to make better choices now while planning out your holiday meals. You can have a delicious, mouth-watering meal that leaves you satisfied and satiated, yet still good for you from the cells of your body to the health of your heart. The following information will provide a guide for healthy fats and what to substitute into your favorite holiday meals in addition to fats best left on the grocery store shelves.
Fat is the perfect fuel for the power-house in our body, the heart. And not just any fat. Good fats. What are good fats? Think about the tastiest and most appealing fats that bring a measure of deliciousness to your plate; butter, lard, coconut oil, meats and cheeses. Does the thought of these foods make you cringe a little, for fear of increasing your waistline or risk of a heart attack? If so, that is due to years of indoctrination that were based off of faulty studies. If one looks at the true, honest research, one can find that study after study is in support of using healthy fats.
What about the highly esteemed plant-based oils that we are told to choose over the saturated fats? These are canola, corn and safflower oils which are often recommended for cooking. Unfortunately, these oils are not stable when heated or exposed to light and oxygen (think grocery shelves and clear plastic bottles) and are subject to rancidification.
When ingested, these oils contribute to hardening of the vessels and make up the bulk of plaque buildup on the lining of the blood vessels. So, it’s not saturated fat causing plaque buildup in the vessels? Studies point to no. It is the damaged poly-unsaturated fatty acids that contribute to atherosclerosis, plaque buildup and heart disease.
What about saturated fats and cholesterol levels? Cholesterol is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants in the body and is a potent sticky substance that helps to patch up damaged vessels. Also, the body makes cholesterol! Most cholesterol in the body does not come from food; it is manufactured by the cells of the body, mostly in the liver. If cholesterol is high, one should ask “why is my body needing to send out this repair agent?” Think sugar, toxins from food and the environment, processed foods, abnormalities in gut flora, infectious microbes and nutritional deficiencies.
Will fat make me fat? No. Whether we realize it or not, we have all been victims of the low-fat diet fad and it is a belief that will take some time to undo. The biggest contributor to obesity is processed carbohydrates: breakfast cereals, breads, pastas, pastries, crackers, sodas and anything with white flour or sugar in it. These foods break down into glucose in the body, insulin is released and this triggers any unused glucose to be stored in the body as fat. Excess glucose and insulin will also cause inflammation in the body, further damaging our blood vessels.
So, what are the fats that we should start incorporating this holiday season? Saturated fats are the most stable option for cooking; butter, ghee, coconut oil, palm oil and lard from pastured animals. Cold-pressed olive oil and other natural oils such as flax, hemp and walnut are healthy options for salads and smoothies and are best purchased in dark glass bottles and not to be heated.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, I invite you to try out your favorite family recipes while substituting in the best fat for the job. The body, and especially the heart, is fueled by fat. Choose wisely and liberally.
Kaitlyn works as a registered nurse locally and has always had a passion for health and wellness through nutrition. She recently completed training as a Nutritional Therapy practitioner and hopes to work, in collaboration with other healthcare providers, to help them reach optimal health. For questions or comments please contact KaitlynShipe@gmail.com .
This article was written for informational or educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your healthcare professional or physician.