- The 5 Best Healthy Fats for Any Diet
The 5 Best Healthy Fats for Any Diet
For years, fats have had a bad reputation, but people are realizing that healthy fats are one of the essential components of the human diet. Fats and oils are very similar, but most fats are solid at room temperature and most oils are liquid at room temperature.
Ghee is a type of clarified butter that’s used for cooking in many parts of Southeast Asia. It’s produced by melting butter into a concentrate and skimming the milk fat off the top. Since it’s a combination of pure fats, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Ghee can last for months or years without refrigeration.
As a fat, ghee is rich in healthy fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, & K, which help to promote bone and brain health and to boost the immune system. It also converts fiber into butyric acid which is beneficial to intestinal bacteria.
Since ghee is lactose-free after all the milk residue has been simmered off, it’s also an alternative for lactose intolerant individuals that can’t digest butter.
Avocado oil is made from the fleshy pale yellow pulp around the avocado pit. It’s one of few edible oils not derived from seeds or pits. Although the nutritional value of avocado oil is similar to olive oil, avocado oil is lighter and less bitter.
Avocado oil has a very high smoke point; the refined oil can reach 520 degrees (F) and the smoke point of unrefined avocado oil is 400 degrees (F). The exact smoke point depends on how the oil has been processed and how it has been handled before it reaches stores and kitchens. Avocado oil can be used for grilling and pan roasting as well as salad dressings. Organic, unrefined avocado oil is the healthiest choice to use for cooking.
Tallow is a form of rendered animal fat, usually made from beef, although there are also vegetarian versions also available. If you’re using beef to make tallow, the healthiest tallow comes from grass-fed beef, not grain-fed beef. This prized animal fat comes from suet, a hard fat found around the kidneys and other organs of a carcass. After melting down the suet and removing the impurities, it becomes tallow. Solid, odorless and white at room temperature, tallow can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark location and has a long shelf life.
Recently, research has confirmed that tallow from grass-fed cattle is a potent source of the notoriously healthy omega fatty acids.Tallow is often used for frying foods, since it has a high smoke point of 420 degrees (F). In addition, it can also used for making certain soaps and candles.
Coconut oil was first developed in South Asia and in the South Sea Islands as a commercial vegetable oil. Touted later in the 1970s by US doctors and scientists as unhealthy, it disappeared and was almost impossible to find in Western cultures for several years. Recently redeemed as a beneficial source of medium-chain fatty acids, coconut oil is making a comeback.
Recent research shows that almost half the fatty acids in the oil are lauric acid, a component known for its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. Hence, coconut oil is often used to treat people with autoimmune diseases as well as thyroid and metabolism problems.
The oil is taken from the copra, the dry inner pulp of the coconut, and has a long shelf life. Unlike other oils it has a high melting point of 76-78 degrees (F). It’s an off-white, dense oil that doesn’t need to be refrigerated but needs to stored in a cool, dark place. Refined coconut oil is the best choice for cooking. Unlike most oils, it is often solid at room temperature.
Lard got a bad reputation years ago, but has been making a come back recently. Similar to tallow, it’s a form of rendered animal fat, except it’s made from pig. The healthiest lard comes from a pastured or foraged pig, not a pig that lives indoors. After it’s rendered, lard needs to be refrigerated or it will turn rancid.
Oleic acid, the main fatty acid in lard, can decrease your risk of breast cancer, and is associated with a decreased risk of depression. Lard also contains high levels of Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin that helps prevent colds and flu during the winter. Humans can get vitamin D from the sun, but they can’t absorb as much as they need. Pigs on the other hand, if they live outside, absorb large amounts of Vitamin D in the fat under their skin.
Lard is used for frying foods like chicken or hash browns, and making flaky pie crusts and pastries.
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