Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Right and Wrong Kinds of Fats (3 of 6)

In my first post of this series, I opened up a question asking who do you think consume more fats - the older or the younger generations? I think older generations, before industrialization existed, consumed a lot of whole, unprocessed animal fats, cream, butter, eggs, nuts, and oils - everything that's found in nature as they were. The younger generations consume fats too, unfortunately, mostly the wrong kinds of fats. The kinds that are highly processed in nature like margarine, vegetable oils, and trans fats. And as we see our generations are not getting any healthier, we now avoid fat. It's embedded in our brain that fat is dangerous and we assume it is the cause for many diseases like high cholesterol, heart disease, and obesity. We see food with "low fat" or "no fat" labels on the shelves and we buy into them, thinking it's better for us. I used to drink low-fat milk and I tried to avoid fat whenever possible. But the truth is our body needs fat. Our cell membranes are made of fat and our brain needs fat to function properly. Fat helps carry fat-soluble vitamins and we need it for energy and to strengthen our immune system. If our body needs fat, then logically not all fats are bad. The problem is we generally consume the wrong kinds of fats - the highly processed, refined fats that not only lack nutritional values, but are also harmful for our body.

What are the wrong kinds of fats?

- Vegetable oils (soy, canola, corn, sunflower, etc.)
- Margarine
- Cooking sprays (PAM)
- Trans fats
- Hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated fats

Our body is composed of mostly saturated and mono-unsaturated fats, and just a tiny bit of poly-unsaturated fats. These man-made, processed oils have been heated at such high temperatures, destroying most of their nutritional values and consist of mainly poly-unsaturated fats that the body doesn't know what to do with. They are highly unstable and sensitive to becoming rancid. Rancid oil forms free radicals in the body, damaging cells and tissues, deplete the body of vitamins, and is linked to cancer development. They also have a disproportionate balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which can result in health problems!

Pastured Parmesan Cheese

What are the right kinds of fats?

- Extra virgin olive oil. Good for light cooking or use as is.
- Coconut oil. Suitable for higher temperature cooking and baking.
- Butter from grass-fed cows. Perfect for sauteing, spread on toasts, and baking.
- Cheese from grass-fed cows
- Animal fats from pastured animals (pork lard and beef tallow).
- Eggs from pastured chicken
- Liver
- Palm oil and palm kernel oils
- Cod liver oil
- Nuts

Baby steps for our family this past year:

We have now replaced vegetable oil with coconut oil for every day cooking. We use extra virgin olive oil for light cooking. We ditch margarine and use butter from grass-fed cows, although it is not (yet) a staple in our home. We also eat more pasture-raised eggs and consume cod liver oil daily. 

Most organic stores in Singapore carry extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. For pastured butter, you can get it from the following stores:

- Jones the Grocer in Dempsey Hills (and one opening in Ion Orchard) sells fresh butter. 
- Super Nature sells Straus butter. It is located in 21 Orchard Blvd and is biggest organic store in Singapore.
- Nature's Glory online website carries B.-d. Farm Paris Creek butter. I used to get this butter from Market Place and Cold Storage before but I have not seen it lately. 

If you live in the States, you can check this post for yummy butter sources.

In the next part of this series, we will see why we need to eat the right kinds of fats.

What kinds of fats do you consume most at home?

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link.


  1. Chanced upon this post. I think Anchor butter from New Zealand is made from grass-fed cows as well. You can check the Anchor butter website for more details. It's relatively cheap, and easily obtainable from most supermarkets. I get mine from Cold Storage, and I have seen it in many other supermarkets as well.

    1. Hi there! Thank you for the info. I just checked out the website and it does look like Anchor butter is grass fed. :)