Fat has gotten a bad rap over the last several decades. Only in the last few years has it started making a comeback with the rise in popularity of "keto." Keto is a great way to lose weight and reduce inflammation, but the problem lies in that gray area of which fats are good and which are bad. To start off, any animal fat is good for you, as long as the animal it came from was properly raised. Look for terms like pastured, forested, grass fed and grass finished. A properly raised animal is one that has eaten what would be its natural diet in the wild. Next comes the more complicated part, plant fats. These are usually in the form of oils. Of course you've all heard of olive oil and the Mediterranean diet. Well, the diet leaves something to be desired, and expelled, but the oil is fantastic. You'll want to look for freshness-usually less than 6 months old-, extra-virgin or virgin, first cold pressed, organic and unfiltered if possible. Avocado oil is another great healthy oil. Palm or red palm are also good, as long as they are sustainably harvested. But, Coconut is the king! Coconut oil and its derivatives, like MCT oil are excellent for your health. As always, look for organic products. If you haven't picked up on the pattern yet, they all come from trees. This will include the nut oils and they have wide variety of tastes and fat compositions. Keep in mind, peanuts are not nuts and cooking with peanut oil is not advisable. Always avoid overheating oils and stay well below the maximum heating temperature, or smoke point. This is where the oil becomes highly oxidized and literally begins to smoke in the pan. At this point it becomes burnt, smelly, and probably a fire hazard. If you manage to start an oil fire, don't use water to put it out, it only gets worse and spreads. It's not pretty. We'll do fire safety another time.
The are some seed oils that can be ok, as long as they aren't heated. For example, I love the taste of sesame oil in my stir-fry, but I don't fry in it. I fry with coconut oil, and add the sesame oil at the end after the cooking is done. I consider sesame oil as a sort of neutral fat as long as it doesn't get hot. You can find all sorts of lists on the internet telling you that seed oils are "heart-healthy" and we all know that if it's on the internet, it must be true. All joking aside, industrial seed oils are highly processed, sometimes with harsh chemicals and have a very suspicious link to cancers and other problems. Rapeseed a.k.a. canola, corn, and so-called vegetable oils are probably some of the worst semi-natural substances you can consume. I say semi-natural because the sources-plants- are natural, but the processing is far from it. This is because every cell and most of the hormones in your body are primarily made up of fat. Considering that your body creates about 25 million new cells per second, you might want to consider which fats you make available for these new cells to be created from. I realize this starts to sound like a science lesson, but the science is important, and I don't want any of you or myself to become part of an experiment that horribly goes wrong.
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