Which Fats Should You Use When Cooking for Your Clients?

Mmmm…  Yummm…   Fat makes food taste good.  But many of your clients may still be asking for low-fat meals because of concerns about weight and heart health.

Well, here’s the good news.  Not all fats are bad.

It is also a myth that eating fat makes you fat.  For many years we were all told to avoid fat because it was contributing to the obesity epidemic.  So what happened?  Food manufacturers started to make low-fat versions of their products.  People started learning how to cook without any fat at all.  Fat consumption in the US dropped.

And….

As people started eating less and less fat, their waistlines started getting bigger and bigger while the number of people being diagnosed with heart disease didn’t decline!  What was happening here?  When fat was reduced in the diet, people started eating starchy and sugary carbohydrates instead, and it is the starchy and sugary carbohydrates not the fat that is contributing to weight gain and heart disease.

Even better news about fat is that some studies suggest that eating more of it may actually be linked to staying slim.  According to Dr. Walter Willett in his book Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, in country-to-country surveys across Europe, women with the lowest fat intake are the most likely to be obese while those with the highest fat intake are the least likely.

As for heart health, there is now more than one study that shows no correlation between eating a high-fat diet and heart disease.  One well-known and often reported study that found no correlation is the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study which involved over 300,000 women studied over a ten-year period.

All this being said, however, it is still not true that all fats are good.  Take a look below to see how I rank the different fats in terms of how healthy they are for us to eat.

Good Fats:

  • Omega-3 Fats – wild fish, some nuts and seeds like walnuts, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds
  • Monounsaturated Fats – olives, olive oil, almonds and avocados
  • Some Saturated Fats (in moderation) – coconuts; coconut oil; coconut milk; saturated fat from free range, grass-fed, grass-finished organically fed animals
  • Unrefined Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fats (in small amounts):  grapeseed, sunflower, walnut, and sesame oils

Bad Fats:

  • Some Saturated Fats – milk, butter, cream in general because the fat in these dairy products has a more direct effect on raising LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol than other saturated fats and animal fats from grain-fed, not free range animals
  • Refined Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fats: corn, sunflower, safflower, and soybean oils to name a few

Really Bad Fats:

  • Hydrogenated Oils or Trans Fats – often found in margarine, shortening, packaged baked goods and snack foods

Now I realize that if your clients want you to cook low-fat you are going to have to cook low-fat; however, I think you are in a very unique position to educate your clients about the latest in health and nutrition information and trends.  Share with them an article about the role fats play in the diet.  Refer them to a book.  Become more than the person who cooks their meals.  Become a resource for them and a guide.

Which fats do you use when you cook?  Do many of your clients ask for low-fat meals?  Was the information in this blog post helpful to you?  Please share your comments so we can start a dialogue.

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