Fat is an essential macro-nutrient, but like anything, it requires specificity and moderation. Why do we have to be specific?
There’s been some confusion lately about what fat is good fat and why. The topic gets a little confusing, mostly because all the studies performed have to take in many other factors as a consideration. For example, a study on high-fat diets being replaced with low-fat diets has to also consider that sugar consumption goes up when fat goes down, typically. That’s just one example, and there are many others.
For the sake of simplicity, we are going to talk briefly about good fat versus bad fat and leave out the other factors for this article.
The obesity epidemic started around the same time the low/no fat philosophy hit the mainstream. This doesn’t mean low or no fat is bad, it just means we need to pay more attention. And of course, we have to always make the disclaimer that “correlation is not causation” but it doesn’t mean we should ignore it. Good science tells us more than a correlation. So what is that?
We’ll continue by explaining what each fat is, as briefly and coherently (A.K.A. English) as possible. Then we’ll let you make the decision!
That may come as a shock to you, but not to worry! The reason is more simple than you may think.
That nasty brownish color that consumes your food before you do is commonly known as rot. Another name for it is oxidation. It’s bad. Bad for you. Bad for the food. Yes, you really should cut off those bruises on your banana, because that’s what it is. Why are we talking about oxidation?
The thing that makes a fat good or bad is directly related to oxidation. Fat is made up of molecules, like everything, and those molecules have to bind together to create mass. Saturated simply means that the molecules are so bound together that there are no gaps between molecules, hence the likelihood of a free-radical (oxidation) breaking it down is unlikely.
Think of saturated literally. Take a washcloth and saturate it with water. How much of the washcloth is consumed with water when you saturate it? Exactly.
The Not-As-Potentially-Good Fat
That’s a big way to label a fat that could be good or bad for you. These are the mono and polyunsaturated fats. Why the potential for good or not as good? Why aren’t they just either good or bad?
Get out the washcloth again. Except, this time, don’t saturate it, because we’re talking about unsaturated fats. Soak all but one part of the washcloth and you have mono (meaning “one”) unsaturated.
In the chain of fat molecules that are bound together, there’s one spot of weakness. A molecule is missing. Therefore, the potential that a free radical can come in and oxidize the whole chain is that much higher.
Same concept with polyunsaturated fats, but more gaps. More dry spots on the washcloth. Poly = many.
So, handle your mono’s and your poly’s with care. They are still great for you in moderate amounts, but they need extra special attention. Keep them sealed, so as to decrease exposure to oxygen. Don’t burn them (otherwise known as “fried” anything) or you introduce them to more of a breakdown, and a harder oxidization response thereafter. Low-medium heat is fine. High heat will make it less stable.
No talk of potentiality here. Trans fat is bad fat, period. It is fat that has been chemically altered, opened up for major free radical damage, heated, spoiled, and damaged. Trans fat is really just polyunsaturated fat that has been abused.
So what are the fats?
Here’s a quick list of examples of the different kinds of fats.
Saturated: Coconut Oil, beef fat, butter.
Mono/Polyunsaturated: Fish oil, egg yolks, avocado fat, cocoa butter, and fats from nuts.
Trans: Margarine, partially hydrogenated oils (soy, peanut, vegetable, corn, cottonseed oils and etc.)
If this is too overwhelming, just read the labels on the food you purchase. Every nutrition label breaks down the different fats. It’s easier to avoid bad fats than you may think.
We hope this makes the fat conversation a little easier to understand! Take fat, just like anything, in moderation. Pay attention to how you respond to your own fat intake, because it’s different for everyone.
Don't forget, our pizza crust is made with the good stuff!