What’s your FOC? Fat of Choice:-) Are you “scared” of animal fat like bacon or lard? Do you always choose the “cleaner” olive oil? Or are you the type to embrace all fatty cuts of meat and use it liberally in your cooking? And, isn’t coconut oil bad for us?
I hear this all the time from family and friends, and this is one of the fundamental transitions in thought when trying to lead a new “Paleo” or “Primal” food plan. These two are not completely the same by the way, as Mark’s Daily Apple points out. Anyway, most of us were raised to think that “cleaner/new” is better. Science and technology “know” best, but how modern science cleans our “food” leads a lot to be desired. We think if we consume canola or soybean oil they must be better, aka cleaner, because they are not meat based. Not so! Science and Man has been messing with these things. They are not even close to how they were when humans started cultivating them. They’ve been crossbred and become pesticide resistant as well as nowadays genetically modified. Most of us in this community don’t believe we need any grain, let alone mutated versions. In fact, those same fats we were told are bad for us, can actually be good for us. We will do articles that delve into this later or see some of my imbedded links. Science is finally coming around to this too!
So what do we do? What do we use instead of the refined and partially hydrogenated oils like canola, vegetable, cottonseed, and margarine? We go back, back before cultivation of grains and genetic modifying of those grains. To meat fat such as rendered lard, bacon grease, etc. Back to the pressing of olives for Olive Oil in the Mediterranean (has antioxidants too). Also to the tropical Coconut Oil. It is actually a favorite in the Paleo community because it has a perfect balance of omegas, anti-microbial properties, heart protecting medium chain fatty acids, medium smoke point so you can cook with it, is almost flavorless, and is what the beautiful people use (no kidding, that is what my jar says on it – don’t we believe all advertising?). Additionally, when choosing coconut oil, look for “expeller pressed, unrefined, naturally refined, or virgin” organic coconut oil – non-hydrogenated is key!
Mary G. Enig, PhD is an expert of international renown in the field of lipid biochemistry and has THE BEST article “The Skinny on Fats.” She also says saturated fats in general enhance the immune system,3 and coconut oil in particular increases body temperature and is preferentially used by the body for energy rather than storage. She says olive oil has stood the test of time but should be used in small amounts. Also, if you choose to use butter, then use that from pastured cows (not pasteurized) and/or make your own ghee (clarified butter). Whatever you do, do not use the highly processed stuff.
Also certain oils break down when heat is applied to them and they lose their nutritional properties. There is lots of information and study into this subject, but to cut to the chase, I’ll list for you the basics below and PaleoPlan has a well researched list that is broken down even further. Essentially, use the recommended fats and be careful with heating them. Also, avoid All hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, processed liquid oils such as soy, corn, safflower, cottonseed and canola, or any of these used at high temperature.
So, to simplify, use these oils at the recommended temperatures for best results and health benefits!
- For Salads/Room Temperature: Extra Virgin Olive oil, Expeller Pressed Flaxseed Oil, and Expeller Pressed Nutseed Oils
- For Sautéing/ Medium heat: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Palm Oil, and Tallow & Suet (rendered from beef and lamb)
- For Higher Heat Cooking: Lard, Coconut Oil, and Ghee (clarified butter for those who do dairy)
It is important to choose your F.O.C. wisely, use correctly, and with variety. A key factor to good health… getting nutrients from a variety of dense foods.
So, are you hungry for some beef or bacon yet? If so, try this delicious Meatloaf this week, grab some grass fed beef and pork and you won’t be disappointed! My family LOVED this recipe from Health-Bent, so I plan to make it for them again this weekend. Serve with mashed faux-tatoes, steamed brocoli or fresh salad and carrot sticks.
And, for those of you looking to make your own salad dressing with traditionally good oil, here is one of my favorite recipes for Balsamic Vinaigrette. Tip: Use a lidded container and shake until it emulsifies.