Heart Healthy Fats
Are there heart healthy fats? In fact, fat is the preferred fuel of the heart. It is tragic however, that the national standards still consider margarines, shortenings, and vegetable oils, to be edible and heart healthy.
Why fake fats are ludicrous
We know that trans fatty acids are bad right? If not, you can catch up on this NY times article. They have been banned in Denmark, Iceland, and many states in the US, however marketers are very clever and so are the food giants. They use oils not recognized as trans fatty acids (TFA's), that become TFA's as soon as they are heated or hydrogenated. All margarines and shortenings are made from cheap oils which become TFA's as soon as they are cooked. Thus any processed food or food cooked with canola, corn, soy, cottonseed or vegetable oil is harmful to the body causing free radicals. Free radicals cause cancer and disease.
What are heart healthy fats?
The Mediterranean diets are hugely popular for using olive oil, a fabulous monounsaturated fat for the body. Again marketers know this and have been using only enough olive oil to be rated olive oil and then cutting the rest with cheap vegetable oils. The UC Davis Olive Center continues to research and test olive oils for their purity and post how to buy a reputable olive oil. I personally love Bariani, it comes in a dark bottle so it is not damaged by light, it is cold extracted and from a local company.
Lard, from pastured pigs is actually similar to olive oil with its high monounsaturated fat content. Instead of buying bleached lard from the grocer, I simply cook my bacon low and slow and strain the fat into a mason jar. It's not rocket science, our ancestors all kept this lard in the "larder" and they had far fewer rates of cardiac heart disease. I love being resourceful and using this lard to cook everything in. The best part is it imparts a delicious smoky flavor.
Eat real fat from real food
Coconut oil and ghee are wonderful to cook in high heats, and you cannot go wrong with real cultured or grass fed butter. These saturated fats are incredibly important to the diet. I am excited that we are reading more labels as a culture, but marketers are one step ahead. The food giants cut in cheap vegetable oils to lower the saturated fat content on foods because they think we want less, when in fact our bodies need more. The body needs real fat from real food.
The third fat required by the body is polyunsaturated. Trans fatty acids start as polyunsaturated fats, so do not be confused by tricky marketing. These fats are highly unstable and should always be found refrigerated in dark bottles, cold pressed from nuts or seeds. You may recognize these as Omega 3's and Omega 6's, oils such as wheat germ, walnut, or sesame seed oil. I like to add 1 tbsp. of these as a last minute addition to enrich the flavor of a dish and bump the nutritional value.
The most important thing to remember is to vary your fats, we need a balance of them all, and they should be eaten as close as possible to their original state. For example choosing anchovies on your caesar salad is preferable to buying a bottle of Omega 3 cod liver oil supplements. Did you know grass fed beef has healthy Omega 3's? The best method for heart healthy fats is ingestion of real food.