Fat is good for your health. Bet you just reread that line didn’t you?! NO, you’re not dyslexic. And NO, It’s not a typo. You read it right the first time. Fat is GOOD for your health. No, actually, let me rephrase that, fat is awesome & good for your health! If you’ve been following Pete’s Paleo for a while, you already know this. And if you’re new, welcome! It’s a privilege to be able to have this conversation with you and set the facts (or shall I say FATS) straight! Sorry, I’m a sucker for corny jokes as I’m sure you’ll soon learn.
DID YOU KNOW
Let’s start off with a little game of “did you know?”, shall we? To quote my buddy Alex Jabr over at High on Fat, did you know “...good ole' fashioned natural butter is surpassing sales of margarine for the first time in over 40 years!”! Let me give you a moment to gasp and take it all in. Wanna know why? Supply and demand my friend. We the consumers are beginning to realize that the synthetic crap formulated in a lab (picturing Dr. Evil yet anyone?) that’s passed off as food, not only ISN’T REAL FOOD, but can’t possibly give you the benefits of real food. So let’s talk about why fat is awesome (fat from REAL FOOD that is) before we get into the important discussion: bacon (our specialty!).
WHAT THE FAT IS FAT ANYWAYS?
Basically it works just as described below in this lovely picture, courtesy once again of High on Fat. Fats fall under two categories: SATURATED and UNSATURATED. Unsaturated fats take it a step further and break down into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. By the way, the “mono” (one) and the “poly” (many) simply refer to the number of “double bonds” (no not James bonds, chemical bonds...again with the corny jokes...sigh...I couldn’t help myself) they have. Even trans fats, although a different beast, fall under these categories. They’re basically unsaturated fats that get morphed into (via bubbling hydrogen ions through them) something that behaves like a saturated fat. You know, it’s kinda like when the Blue Fairy turns Geppetto’s wooden marionette into the walking, talking Pinocchio...looks like a real boy, “sounds” like a real boy, but sure as heck does not function quite like a real boy! Same concept. Too nerdy? My bad.
Anyways... We love saturated fats because of things like MCT oil, grass fed butter, and bacon (which contains both saturated and monounsaturated fats). They deliver essential fat-soluble vitamins (K2, A, D, to name a few) and enhance nutrient absorption & immune function (and give us an excuse to down delicious concoctions like Bulletproof Coffee & Sloth Propeller!). We love unsaturated fats because of things like Omega3’s from fish and Vitamin B6 from avocados which support positive brain cell function, cognitive performance and memory! We don’t love trans fats because they are linked to increased risk for coronary heart disease, Alzheimer’s, lymphoma, and can do a number (get it!) on your cholesterol (an exception to this statement being CLA from the rumen of cows which may be beneficial to health, but that’s an entirely different conversation). Moving on.
COOKING WITH FATS
From a cooking standpoint using extra fat to reheat your food prevents it from drying out and sticking to the pan. Foods like lamb, beef and pork contain lots of fats and collagens (both of which pack a heck of a flavor punch), so they have a tendency to reheat better and require less fat when reheating than say leaner cuts like chicken breast and fish. The latter tend to reheat best via the pan frying method. Don’t be afraid to add in a few spoonfuls of fats like coconut oil, ghee, lard, tallow or avocado oil to the pan when reheating the leaner meats! No one likes rubbery reheated salmon. Yuck! Dishes like soups, stews and braises (which, because the fat has been cooled, reabsorb and meld flavor compounds exquisitely and are even tastier the second go around!) should be reheated low and slow. Use your stove top people! It works better and doesn't zap your food with radiation.
LEAN CUTS VS. FATTY CUTS
And now, as promised I’ll get back to the BACON! Like I pointed out above, bacon contains both saturated and monounsaturated making it (obviously) a fattier cut of meat. Animal fats and especially bacon have historically gotten a bad wrap because of their high Omega6 content which is linked to serious inflammation and diseases. BUT, one man’s grain-fed bacon is certainly not another man’s 100% grass-fed bacon! To quote our friends over at Mark’s Daily Apple on the topic of grass-fed and pasture-raised meat, “grass-fed grass-finished meats [are]...lower in Omega6 and higher in Omega3 [fats] and…[their] fat reserves do not act as repositories for all the chemical shortcuts factory farmers take...”. Boom! Simply another reason to consume our pasture-raised bacon (but then again we’re a little partial). Which is not to say that leaner cuts like pasture-raised chicken and bison don’t have their place in our diets, because they absolutely, positively do (considering culinary variety and gut microbial diversity and) especially if you don’t have access to 100% grass-fed or pasture raised meats. In that case, consuming the leanest cuts of meats you can get your hands on is definitely the best route to go. 99% of the meat consumed in this country is grain-fed, so it’s likely you’ll run into this situation at some point or another, like, for instance, when eating out. Brain hurt yet from all the knowledge you’ve absorbed about why fat is awesome yet? Then I’ve done my job!
- Fat is awesome & good for your health and is either saturated or unsaturated
- Cook with fatty meats so your food is easier to reheat (providing it’s grass-fed or pasture-raised)
- Add some fat to the pan when reheating lean meats so they don’t dry out
- Grass-fed/pasture-raised meats are lower in Omega6 and higher in Omega3 fats
- Eat lean meats when you go out because it’s probably grain-fed
- Bacon rocks!
PROFESSIONAL BIO Delfina is the passionate coach and educator behind the health and wellness website Code to Wellness. In a nutshell, she's a kitchen experimenter and body & mind nourisher. Delfina wholeheartedly believes that your body not only wants to be well, but thrive and that the way to get there is by eating, moving and thinking optimally for YOU. She lives her message fully by helping you navigate this process so you can leave you unique stamp on the world. You can drop her a line on Facebook and get lots of #eatmovethink inspiration on Instagram. Reach out! She's super friendly and wants to hear from you!