I’m so glad to continue sharing what I have learned about using real fats! I wrote my first post on this series in February of this year called Real Fat. It was winter time and I found myself quite comfortably wearing stretchy pants, over sized sweat shirts and well… hibernating. Well, it’s April and Summer is right around the corner meaning shorts, tank tops, pools… gasp!!
Okay, take a deep breath and bare with me. If I were thinking like society has raised us to think, I would go low fat, low calories and cut out the carbs, however, I will not do this to my body. My body craves and needs saturated fats, it needs carbohydrates and I need to be at full attention for my husband and children and not be so focused on my weight.
I was watching an episode of Tyra the other day. The show I so happened to watch was about a weight loss plan. It was called, Get Your Shape, In Shape! I really liked that she stressed getting our own shape in shape because we are all so different and yet we all look at one type and strive for that. So for me, I’ve been cutting my portion sizes especially for my late night dinner meal, I’ve quit eating after 8 and exercise at least 3 times a week. So far, I have dropped 4 pounds. That is literally all I’ve done. It goes to show me that I’ve been overeating and that has caused me to carry extra weight. I still drink full fat raw milk, use real butter on my morning toast accompanied by my fried egg, and use olive oil and pork lard to create some pretty amazing dishes.
So let’s talk about real fat and why it’s so good for our health.
This whole saturated fat debate only started 100 years ago. Manufacturers came up with the idea to turn inexpensive vegetable oils into solid fats that could be used like the more expensive butter and lard. They also needed this solid fat to have a long shelf life and thus, the process of hydrogenation was invented. Hydrogen atoms were added to unsaturated fatty acids in oils which allowed the oils to stay solid at room temperature.
In the 1950’s Ancel Keys came out with a published study correlating saturated fats with heart disease. It was a faulty study and yet the vegetable oil industry ran with it and started advising all Americans to quit using pork lard, beef tallow and butter in favor of shortening, vegetable oils and margarine. All man made and unbeknownst at the time, filled with trans fats. By the 1980’s only 2% – 3% of households were using real fats.
Fat is an important part to our body makeup. We need fat. Our brain, and hormones rely on fat to function. Digestion is impossible without fats. An interesting fact I learned from Jennifer McLagan’s book is that fat and protein are found together in nature because our bodies need the fat to help us digest the protein, so it makes sense to eat a well marbled steak or even chicken with it’s skin. Fat also helps the body to absorb nutrients, calcium, and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. These are all benefits of eating real butter, cream, pork lard, beef tallow, meats with fats, even bacon from pastured animals raised as God intended by local family farmers.
Unfortunately, way too many of us heeded the advice to turn away from real fats and turned to man-made hydrogenated fats which are full of trans fats. 30 years later we were not healthier but heavier and our state of disease is at an all time high. These trans fats are difficult for our body to process, so instead stores them as fat. They increase the “bad” LDL cholesterol and lower the “good” HDL. They interfere with insulin production, promoting diabetes and obesity. In 2002 it was finally advised that no amount of trans fat is good for our body.
The other dietary fat that we substituted was vegetable oil for pork lard in cooking and frying. Vegetable oil is a polyunsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fats that are not hydrogenated are very unstable and oxidize easily, especially when heated, so they are not good to cook with. They damage our cell’s DNA. With the abundance of polyunsaturated vegetable oil that we are using, it’s effecting the balance of the essential fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3 in our bodies. The ideal ratio is 2 – 1. Twice the amount of omega-6 to omega-3. By replacing animal fats with vegetable oil many of us are now getting 29 times more omega-6 to omega-3 since it’s a rich source of linoleic acid. An excess of omega 6 has been linked to cancer, heart disease, liver damage, learning disorders, weight gain, and malfunction of the immune, digestive and reproductive systems. It’s interesting to note that while our omega-6 intake has skyrocketed our omega-3 has declined. Meat and butter from grass-fed animals contain omega-3, but animals raised in factory farms fed a grain diet are full of omega-6 acids.
One exception to this is Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive Oil. I use a lot of olive oil in my cooking as it’s been used in Spain and the Mediterranean world traditionally for centuries! It is heat stable to 355 degrees making it great for sauteing, even frying. Make sure it doesn’t go above that and turn rancid. It’s definitely best eaten raw over salads and drizzled on yummy foods.
Interesting stuff, right?!
It’s really too bad that we have to get so scientific with food. Ughhh… I hate it!! We have seriously stripped our food of all flavor and taste and made eating a science project. Really, let’s just eat normally. If we cook with real foods and eat in moderation, we can ENJOY FOOD! Let’s not feel guilty because we ate a piece of marbled steak with fat or that our morning toast used butter. It’s nourishing and taste out of this world. I fell into the same trap and let me tell you, the flavors created by using real fats are DELICIOUS! My grandparents lived a long life, my husbands grandparents are still living and they all grew up using real pork lard, real butter, real tallow, real milk. I’ll follow their advice as they didn’t sacrifice flavor or nutrition!
It’s also really exciting to see a new generation embracing real foods and real fats. Celebrity chefs such as Mario Batali introducing lardo on his menu. Restaurants utilizing duck fat for dishes such as duck confit or to fry potatoes. As I get into this series, I’m excited to share with you all aspects of the animal. How to cook the tender and tough cuts of meat. How our ancestors knew that to tenderize their grass fed roast, they would first have to lard it. And back then it wasn’t called grass fed it was just a roast 😉 Let’s just praise God that we are living in an exciting time where we are taking back our food system and retraining ourselves on how to cook and nourish our families.