Our box, CrossFit Thermal, is doing a month-long nutrition challenge from July 7-August 7. Members are choosing various levels of engagement, ranging from strict Zone to strict Paleo, to “no grains, no extra sugar.” I will be posting a short nutrition tip to help people stay on point and make clean nutrition a life-long habit instead of just a short term “diet.”
Nutrition Tip #10: Don’t Be Afraid of Fat!
One huge paradigm shift that occurs with correct nutrition knowledge is the realization that eating fat is not bad. It will not “clog your arteries,” eating cholesterol will not raise your cholesterol*, and in fact, is essential to many functions of the human body. Of course, not all fat is created equal, so don’t go rushing to eat your Crisco. We are trying to keep a ratio of about 1:1 of omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) and omega-6 fatty acids (pro-inflammatory). Standard American diets have a ratio more around 1:30!
So, which fats are best to consume/most stable to cook with? Yes, those “evil” saturated fats are actually the best thing for you!: animal fat (preferably grass-fed), tallow, lard (bacon fat), ghee, and coconut products like coconut milk, oil, and flakes. Also things like avocado and macadamia nuts are great. Contrary to popular belief, these are the best bets when it comes to consuming fats.
Behind them are more sensitive oils that should not be cooked, or cooked at very low heat: olive oil, avocado oil, and macadamia nut oil. I will also say that nuts like almonds go in this middle category because although a tasty snack or side, too much can increase your omega-6 fatty acid levels. Remember, more omega-3 and less omega-6.
Fats to absolutely avoid? corn oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, vegetable shortening – basically all of the things that Westerners have been cooking with for the last 50 years. Also, “regular” butter which is typically made from one or more of these fats. You may have noticed that when corn oils became popular, our obesity epidemic also arose. Hmmm….
For more info, read on:
Diane Sanfilippo: What are Safe Cooking Fats and Oils?
*Anecdotally, I consume about 50-60% of my diet from fat and when I went to get my blood tested one time, I told my doctor that my triglycerides were probably going to be around 50 or less. He said “do you mean 150?” (150 is “average” while 200+ is high) My triglycerides were 31 and are consistently in the 30’s. (For the rest of my numbers, see my post: Proof is in the Numbers)