Chapter 7: The Skinny on Fat

This week we discuss good fats and bad fats and their relevance to our diet.    Alex explains how to read food labels related to fat content in packaged items including low-calorie, reduced calorie, calorie free, fat-free, low-fat, and free, no or zero.  She also defines what fat is, and that while all fats contain 9 calories per gram, the chemical composition of fats vary.  There are two main types of fats, saturated and unsaturated.  Saturated fats are saturated with hydrogen molecules which causes these types of fats to be solid at room temperature.  Many processed foods contain unsaturated fats that are created to become saturated fats due to a chemical process which artificially adds hydrogen to these fats.  This causes the processed foods to have a longer shelf life.   Nowadays hydrogenated fats and oils are used in deep-frying and cooking.

The majority of packaged fats will contain fats that have gone through the hydrogenation process forming them into trans fats.  Chips, cookies and crackers all contain these harmful trans fats.  Suggestions that Alex has for substituting these snacks with healthier versions include:

  • Air-popped popcorn drizzled with olive oil and sea salt
  • Rice cakes spread with nut butters or humus
  • Homemade cookies, crackers or muffins
  • Trail mix made with nuts, seeds and dried fruit
  • Edamame

Alex suggests minimizing your intake of processed foods that contain trans and hydrogenated fats to jump-start the detox process.  When the liver is free from processing and eliminating trans fat it can work on detoxifying the other toxins in your system.

The best way to ensure you are avoiding the bad fats is to make your own meals at home where you have some control over the ingredients you are using as well as your cooking methods.

Alex suggests a variety of foods for detoxing your liver which include alfalfa sprouts, burdock root, dandelion root and greens, green leafy vegetables, kidney beans, nuts and seeds, peas, raw salads, soybeans, and spirulina.  She also suggests avoiding aerosol whipped cream, canned franks and beans, coffee shop pastries, creamy dressings, fried foods, gravies, hot dogs, microwave popcorn, processed meats, processed snack foods, sausages and toaster pastries.

Good fats, that should be included in the diet include essential fatty acids.  Essential means that your body cannot produce and it’s only something that can come from a natural food source.  EFA’s are necessary for proper cell and brain function as well as a healthy nervous system.  These fats are found naturally in plant sources which include flax oil, pumpkin seed oil, walnuts, and fish including herring, mackerel, salmon, and sardines.  These EFA’s lessen water retention, reduce the risk of kidney problems, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, strokes and cancer.

Alex gives very good information on how to buy oils, see below directly quoted from the book:

  • Store unopened bottles in a cool, dark place.
  • Refrigerate after opening, except olive oil
  • Never reuse oils that have been used for deep-frying
  • Never use or consume an oil that smells rancid
  • Do not add new oil to a bottle of older oil
  • Do not heat oils to the smoking point

The best high heat oil is coconut oil, followed by sesame and olive oil which is best for medium heat, sunflower and safflower oil is great for low heat.  Salad dressings are great using canola, flaxseed and walnut oils.

Some of the recipes in the back of the book contain great examples of healthy fats including Apple Granola, “Creamy” Carrot Soup,  Herbed Quinoa Salad, Broccoli and Miso Calzones, Mushroom Barley Pilaf, Guacamole, Spicey Sweet Potato Fries, and Nutty Rice Bars.

Don’t forget the next Lisa’s Lentils Healthy Happy Hour Book Club meeting scheduled to take place next Monday, September 24th, Noon-1:30 p.m. on the University of Colorado campus, Center for Community, Treehouse Room.


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