What are healthy fats?
Healthy fats are Real Food Fats. You can determine if a type of fat is Real Food by asking yourself the following questions:
- Is it a product or is it a food?
- Is it made with ingredients that humans have used for thousands of years?
- Is this something that your great-grandmother would recognize as food?
- Can you make it in your kitchen with grocery store ingredients?
- Is it advertised on TV?
Highly-processed fats including vegetable oils and margarine (even non-hydrogenated margarine) fail this test of Real Food Viability.
However, the “old fashioned fats” that your great-grandmother kept in her kitchen are real food. Not only that, they offer unique health benefits.
Here are how, when, and why you should use these traditional fats.
1. Coconut Oil
Once upon a time, people were scared of coconut oil due to its saturated fat content. Now, even supermodels take daily spoonfuls of it. Coconut does boast 13 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, but that it the beauty of this adaptable lipid!
Coconut oil is mainly MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides. Studies show that these molecules increase metabolism. Additionally, coconut oil boasts anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, and many use it in the treatment of Candida overgrowth.
How to use Coconut Oil
The saturated fat content of coconut oil makes it heat stable and a perfect candidate for stir frying and sauteeing. I love using it for baking, like in my Ultimate Coconut Flour Pancakes. Since coconut oil is solid at room temperature, simply place a glass jar of coconut oil in a pan of simmering water to liquify it.
I also use coconut oil all over my body after a shower or bath for a natural moisturizer. I even rub a pea-sized drop through wet hair as leave-in conditioner. It’s the perfect multi-tasking, chemical free beauty product!
Where to get coconut oil
You can find coconut oil in every health food store, and most supermarkets now. Choose organic virgin coconut oil for a pronounced coconut flavor, or organic refined coconut oil for less coconut flavor.
I usually order my coconut oil from Thrive Market, which has a great price.
Ghee traces its roots to the ancient tradition of Ayurvedic Medicine, where it was considered a sacred, medicinal, cleansing, and nourishing food. It is 100% butterfat… golden, flavorful, nutrient-rich butterfat. Butter contains primarily butterfat, but also milk proteins and water. To create ghee, butter is simmered to separate the oil from the other components, which are strained off.
- Ghee contains no casein or lactose, so is suitable for those who are intolerant of dairy.
- Ghee from grassfed cows contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an anti-carcinogenic compound
- Ghee also contains anti-inflammatory omega-3s
- Ghee is a source of vitamin A, the type of vitamin A your body can absorb, which is not found in vegetables
- Ghee provides vitamin K2, a nutrient required to shuttle calcium into bones
- Read 10 Benefits of Ghee here.
How to use Ghee
Since ghee contains no milk solids, it makes a perfect fat for sauteeing and stir frying. Ghee tastes richer than butter, and makes a great spread for warm pancakes or breads. It also makes a decadent, nourishing substitute for oil in baked goods – simply melt it over low heat and use it in place of cooking oil.
Where to get ghee
You can make your own from grassfed butter. However, it isn’t much cheaper than buying it and does take a bit of time. I get this bulk from Thrive Market, which is the best price.
3. Grass Fed Butter
- Butter from grassfed cows contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid, that anti-cancer compound found in ghee
- Grassfed butter also contains butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid that supports the body’s response to infection. It is also shown to having anti-carcinogenic properties and soothe the intestinal tract.
- It contains elusive fat-soluble vitamins including A, D, E and K2
- Read more in my post 5 Reasons Why Butter is a Superfood.
Whereas ghee is excellent for cooking, grassfed butter makes an ideal finishing fat. Finish sauces and soups by stirring in a spoonful. Or savor the creamy sweetness of raw butter spread on pancakes or baked sweet potatoes. You can also use it for cooking, but only over low to medium heat–the milk solids in butter burn over high heat.
Where to get grassfed butter
Find grassfed butter labeled as such at your health food stores. You can also find Kerrygold butter, which is grassfed, at most large supermarkets.
- Lard from pasture-raised hogs is the second highest food source of vitamin D, after cod liver oil. One tablespoon of lard contains 1,000 IU’s of vitamin D.
- It is neutral flavored, excellent for frying and even baking
- It makes an ideal substitute for hydrogenated shortening
- Since foraging pigs can be raised nearly anywhere, it is a highly sustainable food.
- Read 10 Reasons to Bring Back Lard here.
Lard is a heat-stable fat, making it a great alternative to vegetable oils for deep frying. Use it in savory preparations, like sauteeing or cooking eggs. It also works in baked goods, particularly pie crusts. My favorite way to use lard is in my Spiced Coconut Flour Lard Biscuits or Paleo Cornbread Muffins.
Where to get lard
Don’t buy the foil-wrapped sticks of lard found at supermarkets, since this contains hydrogenated oils. You can find lard at many farmer’s markets or order it online here. You can also render your own lard.