The Skinny on Healthy Fats
Even the New York Times has admitted that butter is good for you. Ancel Keys' Lipid Theory has been debunked. I'm not surprised.
God created everything we humans need to survive and thrive on this planet. In the Bible, all the fat of the sacrificial animal was offered to the Lord. He received the best of the animal as an offering.
People since the beginning of time have used the fats that God provided to cook their food. The factory fats have only been around less than a hundred years and their invention has suspiciously corresponded with the rise of heart disease and other diseases of modern civilizations in America and the world.
The following nutrient-rich traditional fats have nourished healthy population groups for thousands of years:
Tallow and suet from beef and lamb
Lard from pigs
Chicken, goose and duck fat
Coconut, palm and palm kernel oils
God provided cows who eat grass and give milk. From milk, we get cream and milk. Milk, beyond drinking it fresh, becomes yogurt, cheese, kefir, cottage cheese, etc.
Cream becomes butter with the side benefit being buttermilk which is the liquid left when the cream becomes butter. Buttermilk is very healthy to drink and to use in recipes.
Butter is the queen of fats! It is stable for cooking and a good source of fat-soluble vitamins. Spread on bread, put on your vegetables, use in sauces, use for sautéing. Ghee, which is clarified butter, is great for frying and has a much higher smoke point than regular butter.
Kerrygold Butter is my favorite brand – in Ireland they raise cows on pasture. I always buy unsalted butter because it is fresher.
Butter is fantastic for your brain and provides the brain with the nutrients it needs:
Cholesterol: The highest concentration of cholesterol occurs in the brain, where it plays an especially important role in memory formation. Seniors with the highest cholesterol levels have the best memory function. Cholesterol also plays a major role in regulating serotonin levels in the brain – low cholesterol levels are associated with depression, anti-social behavior and even suicide.
Saturated Fats: The brain contains high levels of saturated fats, both in the cell membranes and in the mitochondria. Saturated fats are stable and don’t create damage in the brain like poly-unsaturated fats do.
Arachidonic Acid: Eleven percent of your brain is composed of arachidonic acid (AA), a type of omega-6 fatty acids found exclusively in animal fats like butter. A supply of AA is critical to neurological development in the infant.
Vitamin A plays a key role in vision and all sensory perception. Butter is an excellent source of vitamin A.
Vitamin D is critical to neurological function and protection against depression. Butter provides vitamin D.
Vitamin K supports neurological function and learning. Butter provides vitamin K.
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acids especially concentrated in the brain. Seafood is a good source, but butter provides it also.
Choline is critical for the formation of glial cells. Butter is an excellent source.
Butter substitutes like margarine and spreads do not supply these critical nutrients (although many brands have vitamins A and D added); in addition, these industrial products contain rancid oils that can really damage your brain and interfere with learning ability in growing children.
When a cow or lamb is slaughtered, the fat is called tallow.
This tallow is not only good for cooking, but is exceptionally good for skin care. People have used it for millenia to make their skin softer, to heal skin problems, etc.
Tallow is the most stable fat and the best fat for frying at high temperatures.
You can render your own tallow by getting some fat from cows or sheep that have been ethically-raised on pasture. Cut the fat into 1-inch pieces and put them in a pot. Slowly cook over low heat until all the fat has rendered out of the pieces and they are crispy. Strain into jars and freeze.
When a pig is slaughtered, the fat is called lard.
Pig lard comes in two types.
Leaf lard is the fat that is around the kidneys and loin of the pig. It is considered the highest grade of lard and has a very soft and spreadable texture. Leaf lard is the lard to choose when you don't want your food to taste “piggy.” Use this in pie crusts, and for frying because of the very high smoke point. Substitute leaf lard 1:1 for butter in pie crust recipes. Your pie crust will be super flaky. My grandmother always made pie crusts with lard.
All other lard will taste “piggy” and can be used for frying. This would include bacon fat.
When you fry bacon, strain the fat into a little Mason jar and cover it and keep it to season vegetables and to fry eggs.
Lard and bacon fat are good stable fats for cooking and frying and good sources of vitamins A and K.
You can render your own lard by purchasing pork fat from ethically-raised animals and cutting the fat into 1-inch pieces. Put them in a pot. Slowly cook over low heat until all the fat has rendered out of the pieces and they are crispy. Strain into jars and freeze.
OLIVE OIL AND AVOCADO OIL:
Use for salad dressing and light cooking—make sure it is real extra virgin olive oil and cold-pressed avocado oil! These oils become rancid quickly and must be kept in dark bottles in dark parts of your kitchen. I buy 2 gallons of organic olive oil every year and use it as quickly as I can. I highly recommend either Jovial Foods extra virgin olive oil or Chaffin Family Orchards extra virgin olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil is great for skin care also. In Italy, people wash their faces with olive oil and use it to smooth dry and injured skin.
Coconut oil is a very healthy oil, helpful for weight loss. Use for light cooking or stir into soups, etc. Add coconut oil to smoothies. Extra virgin coconut oil can be used in recipes that would benefit from the taste of coconut. If that's not the case, use refined coconut oil. I once had a class in my house on eggs. I fried eggs in lard, butter and extra virgin coconut oil. The tasters all agreed that the egg fried in the coconut oil tasted best.
RED PALM OIL:
Palm oil is safe and stable for cooking. This is the oil that food manufacturers should be using. Makes great popcorn.
Add flax oil in small amounts to salad dressings or dips—never use in cooking! Make sure it is truly cold pressed and store in the refrigerator.
DUCK AND GOOSE FAT:
Great sources of vitamin K; can be used for sautéing. If you have never had potatoes fried in duck fat, you are missing out.
What does cold-pressed and expeller-expressed mean on the label?
This means that the oil was mechanically extracted with a screw press. This traditional way of making oil is much healthier than using hexane – but the big oil manufacturers don’t like this method because it’s less effective (less oil is made) and it’s more expensive. So, it’s used less often. The expeller pressing process can cause a lot of heat that can make the oil go rancid.
Some companies take it step further and cold press their oils at temps of no more than 80°F to 120°F, which is labor intensive but produces the best oils. Beware that although the term “cold pressed” is regulated in Europe, it’s not very regulated in the U.S. and cold pressed oils could technically be made at high temperatures – so I don’t take this term on a label at face value.
COLD OR EXPELLER-EXPRESSED SESAME AND PEANUT OILS:
These oils are fine or salad dressings or sauces. Be sure you buy organic peanut oil because almost all peanuts are GMO and heavily sprayed with pesticides.
COOKING WITH FAT:
When cooking with fat, you want to be careful not to exceed the smoke point for that fat. (See chart handed out in class.) Also, remember that saturated fats are best when using heat because the way they are structured makes them withstand the heat better, meaning they’ll retain nutrients and won’t oxidize, or become damaged. (Less stable polyunsaturated oils oxidize easier and become rancid, and can cause cancer.)
WHAT FATS ARE TERRIBLE FOR YOU:
Most cooking oils go through an insane amount of processing with chemical solvents, steamers, neutralizers, de-waxers, bleach and deodorizers before they end up in the bottle. If you watch videos on the modern canola oil making process, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
What they don’t tell you in this video is that the “solvent” that is most often used to extract the oil is the neurotoxin hexane – and as you can see it’s literally bathed in it. Hexane is a cheap byproduct from gasoline production, that’s a serious occupational hazard and toxic air pollutant. It’s been shown that some hexane residue can remain in the oil, and the FDA doesn’t require food manufacturers to test for residues. Residue tests done by the Cornucopia Institute in 2009 found hexane residues in soybean oil. So, we very well could be eating this chemical every time we cook with hexane-extracted oils. Almost all toxicology research focuses on the industrial use and inhalation of hexane, so no one knows exactly how dangerous eating it is – but it surely isn’t healthy.
These newfangled fats can cause cancer, heart disease, immune system dysfunction, sterility, learning disabilities, growth problems and osteoporosis:
All hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils
Industrially processed liquid oils such as soy, corn, safflower, cottonseed (Crisco) and canola
Fats and oils (especially vegetable oils) heated to very high temperatures in processing and frying
AVOID THE FOLLOWING FACTORY-MADE FATS:
Any hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oil
Crisco (just look at the scary label)
“I can’t believe it’s not butter”, “Promise spread”, or anything similar (again, look at labels)
Rice bran oil
BOOKS AND ARTICLES ON HEALTHY FATS
Real Food – Nina Planck
Get Your Fats Straight by Sarah Pope
The Oiling of America by Sally Fallon Morell
A Life Unburdened by Richard Morris
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morell
The Weston A. Price Foundation website
SOURCES FOR HEALTHY FATS
Yonder Way Farm at yonderwayfarm.com
Thrive Market – Epic and Fatworks brands
Pure Indian Foods – ghee
Farm Foods Market – fat from ethically-raised animals
Heritage Foods – fat from ethically-raised animals
Tropical Traditions – extra virgin coconut oil, refined coconut oil, skin care products
Vintage Traditions – skin care products
HOW TO SUBSTITUTE HEALTHY FATS FOR UNHEALTHY ONES:
When you want to make a recipe that calls for vegetable oil or Crisco, think about what kind of recipe you are making....then think through the list of healthy fats and decide which one would work.
Cake, muffins, quick breads – would it benefit from tasting a little bit like coconut? Then use coconut oil. If it calls for vegetable oil, melt the coconut oil. If it calls for Crisco, use the coconut oil in its solid form.
If it wouldn't benefit from tasting like coconut oil, use butter instead.
Pie and pastries – use butter or, even better, lard instead of Crisco
Salad Dressing – use olive oil or avocado oil
Mayonnaise – use expeller-expressed sunflower oil or avocado oil
Lost Arts Kitchen Mayonnaise
Makes about 1 pint
3 egg yolks
1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon whey (from strained yogurt)
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of freshly ground white pepper (black is fine, too, but the mayo will have black flecks in it)
1-1/4 cups expeller-pressed sunflower oil or avocado oil
1/2 cup olive oil, or if you prefer a different flavor, try walnut, hazelnut, or sesame oil
Start with all ingredients at room temperature…or at least the eggs and oil. Process the eggs yolks in a food processor for 30 seconds, then add the mustard, lemon juice, whey, salt, and pepper and process again for another minute or two, until slightly thickened.* With the processor running, slowly add oil in a very thin stream–practically drop-by-drop at first. You can begin pouring the oil a little more quickly after adding about half of it, though I just add all the oil via the pusher. Once you have added all the oil, taste the mayonnaise, you may want to add a little more lemon, mustard, or salt. Let sit out at room temperature for 7-8 hours, then refrigerate. Keeps for about four weeks.
Frying – when a recipe calls for vegetable oil, use tallow or lard or coconut oil.
Sauteing – instead of vegetable oil, use olive oil or butter or a combination of both. You can also use avocado oil.
Margarine – always substitute butter for this!
LAST BUT DEFINITELY NOT LEAST
Healthy fats do not make you fat! They do not cause heart disease. Sugar makes you fat and contributes to the diseases of modern civilizations. Eat the foods that God provided and not the overly-processed foods that have only been around since World War 2. Don't feed those processed foods to your children either.
The following is the Story of Crisco taken from Four String Farm's website....
THE STORY OF CRISCO
In the early 1900’s, there was a tin pail of lard in nearly every kitchen in America. Lard was the universal shortening.
The demise of lard began in 1906, when Upton Sinclair published his book, The Jungle, which exposed the gruesome reality of the Chicago meat-packing plants. Sinclair claimed that workers would sometimes fall into the boiling vats of lard and became part of the product.
The Jungle was a work of fiction, and President Teddy Roosevelt called Sinclair a “crackpot” who was “hysterical, unbalanced, and untruthful.” Nevertheless, Sinclair set the stage for a bold new competitor to lard.
Around this time, William Proctor and James Gamble realized that the rise of electric lighting was about to put their candle-making company out of business. But Proctor and Gamble made a key scientific breakthrough: they discovered that hydrogenating the process to make their cottonseed oil candles would turn the candles into a white, lard-like substance. They called this invention Crisco vegetable shortening (the vegetable was cotton).
Proctor and Gamble launched Crisco in one of the brilliant marketing campaigns of the 20th Century. P&G positioned Crisco as a new type of food, clean and pure, a product of science, healthier and safer than lard.
In 1912, P&G released a beautifully-written and gorgeously-illustrated cookbook with hundreds of recipes using Crisco. This cookbook, The Story of Crisco, was printed in numerous languages to target niche ethnic markets. Jewish homemakers in particular were early adopters of Crisco as a kosher product.
P&G gave away the cookbook with their product and mailed it all over America, which was a very big deal at the time. The Story of Crisco was treasured by early 20th Century homemakers and stands to this day as a monument to food marketing genius.
P&G paid celebrity chefs to lead cooking classes featuring Crisco to establish the credibility of the brand. The company claimed in advertising that Crisco would instill good moral character in children. They paid scientists to produce research that supported their health claims. Crisco hammered away at the health theme for decades.
Crisco was a pioneer of print media during WWI, radio in the 1920’s, and television in the 1930’s. The dual marketing strategy was to promote the purity of Crisco while subtly undermining lard.
The lard industry, controlled by a consortium of good old boys, mistakenly believed they held an eternal monopoly on shortening. Lard industry leaders failed to recognize the threat from Crisco in time, or to successfully defend and promote their product. Lard was demonized to the extent that even today the word lard itself invites disgust. Eventually, Crisco completely replaced lard in the kitchens of America.
Crisco’s product health claims were seriously challenged in the 1990’s when scientists revealed the truth about trans fats. Despite numerous product reformulations, Proctor and Gamble divested itself from the Crisco brand in 2001.
The Crisco campaign of the 20th Century was enormously effective in shaping attitudes and beliefs among consumers. Lard, a wholesome product that had been loved by Americans for centuries, was utterly destroyed in the marketing arena by an imitation food that was created in a lab and manufactured from cotton.
Modern food companies are even more sophisticated and more effective in their food marketing messages. We are bombarded constantly with these highly compelling messages.
As a consumer, it can be difficult to know what to believe, to know the real story behind the advertising. But the closer we eat to home, to local farms, and to our own backyard gardens, the easier it is to know the truth about our food.