What Healthy Fats and Oils Do I Stock in My Kitchen?
In my journey to uncover the best fats and oils to consume, I've gone through many experiments to determine what feels best for me, in my unique body. Health is a complex and bio-individual subject, requiring us to truly tune in and trust ourselves. After all, we know our bodies more intimately than anyone else. Oftentimes, our innate wisdom may be clouded by people who want the "best" for us, the mainstream narrative or latest diet trend. Most of what we hear is based in profit, anyway, and has led to our culture's sharp health decline over the years.
I've landed on the work of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) which advocates science-based ancestral principles and consumption of real, locally sourced ingredients free of chemicals. It's about feeling full and nourished from a diversity of healthy foods - both animal and plant-based - that are prepared in a way that enhances nutritional value (like sprouting, fermenting, soaking, etc).
As part of my personalized mentoring sessions, I can work alongside you and help to simplify these principles and gradually apply any of them to your household.
In terms of fats, WAPF praises animal-based fats (butter, ghee, lard, etc) and cold-pressed, virgin oils (coconut, avocado, olive) that provide an array of nutritional benefits including the all-important vitamins D, A, and K2.
In fact, at recent conferences that I attended, the meals featured a side of freshly baked sourdough bread alongside huge towers of grass-fed butter! We all LOVE our butter. Sally Fallon Morrell, the foundation President extols the power of butter in keeping us healthy and preventing disease. I recognize that this may be controversial since the media has published articles about the evils of butter and in this country, we have endured an entire fat-free trend at the end of last century. Uff, glad that's over.
In my own kitchen, I keep the following saturated fats which are solid at room temperature. These are ideal for cooking, frying and baking and all three have such distinct flavor profiles from smoky to tropical.
--grass-fed butter from cows that are grazing on pasture, not conventionally raised.
--bacon fat - again, look at sourcing of the animal.
--virgin organic coconut oil - you can buy large containers and transfer small quantities to a glass jar for easy access. Read about how I use this oil exclusively for treating my cutting board.
--ghee is also a great option if you do not tolerate dairy well. In our household, though, we enjoy the many benefits of butter and our dog even starts his day with a couple smears on a plate.
These are always cold-pressed, unrefined and organic but even better if you know where they come from due to so much adulteration in the oil industry, especially olive and avocado.
--olive oil - its delicate aromatic nature is reserved for garnishing dishes.
--avocado oil - can be used for higher heat like roasting or baking with its neutral flavor.
--toasted sesame oil for asian inspired dishes and high-heat cooking.
and fermented cod liver oil as one of my only nutritional supplements (too precious to use for cooking). I'll leave that topic for another day!
Knowing your source is the most important factor in making conscious decisions around food. The closer they are produced, the better. And remember to ask whether your products come from fields, and not factories.
Let me explain.
You'll never find refined vegetable and seed oils in my pantry because they are produced in refineries. It's been a process to understand the true, harmful consequences of these oils and to eliminate them from my pantry. Even avoiding them in grocery items has been challenging; that's why it's best to avoid the center aisles altogether or make our own healthy treats. A few notable snack brands like Siete and Barnana are using safe oils! (other suggestions?)
There's plenty of science that supports these claims but I'll just say that these processed oils been directly linked to obesity and modern day lifestyle-based diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and are often made with GMO crops like soy and corn. Soybean and corn oil happen to be the two most widely used oils in restaurants.
On a positive note, I hope you'll consider experimenting with some of the oils and fats that I personally love and see how they land for you.
How does your body feel after eating them?
Do you have more natural energy?
Determine for yourself which of these taste and feel best, both on your plate and in your body. Remember, it's a journey after all and every bit of awareness helps when we begin to implement small steps.