When I learned to cook, bacon fat was used to fry chicken and steak and many other items. Some people even ate bacon fat spread on bread like butter; however, not in my family. Full fat mayonnaise was a quarter-inch thick on sandwiches. But those were the days when we didn't have as much information on what those saturated fats were doing to our hearts. (The bacon fat image is used with permission from Notes from a Country Girl Living in the City.)
We're a lot smarter now. We have the advantage of ongoing scientific studies and trials at the Linus Pauling Institute (LPI) and other prestigious institutions to provide us with the information necessary to make better choices about how to eat smarter, with more taste, and consequently, more enjoyment.
We now know that some fat is essential for body functions because humans can't synthesize it. The healthiest fats are poly-unsaturated, liquid at room temperature. Scientists recommend that we eat fatty fish at least twice a week because of what they contain: the fish oils. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are in fatty fish, including include salmon, steelhead (a sea-run trout), rainbow trout, oysters, Dungeness crab, and canned white or light tuna.
The least healthy fats are saturated fats; they are solid at room temperature, like the marbled fat in an expensive steak or the yellow fat under a chicken's skin. It can also come from some plant fats like palm oils, coconut oils and cocoa butter. You will frequently see palm oil in cakes, cookies, donuts and pies. Saturated fats are also present in full-fat dairy products like cheese, whole milk and cream, butter, ice cream and ice cream products.
Trans fats are the next unhealthy fat; they are manufactured from synthetic sources but can naturally occur in some foods like the fatty parts of meat and full-fat dairy products. Hydrogenated oils are found in many commercially prepared foods and mixes. Rosemary Wander, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Nutrition and Food Management and an LPI/OSU Faculty Affiliate Investigator explains, "An unsaturated fatty acid becomes partially hydrogenated, called a trans fatty acid, when hydrogen is added to alter its characteristics." This gives a relatively inexpensive rich taste to prepared foods like margarine, cookies, frozen pizzas, pies, and savory snacks.
How can we incorporate poly-unsaturated fats into our everyday diet? Healthy oils from seeds and nuts include sunflower, canola, soy, corn, safflower, olive, walnut and peanut oils.
Use healthy oil for sautéing, baking, roasting vegetables and making flavorful sauces and dressings. Use a mild tasting oil to scramble your breakfast eggs, adding your favorite additions, perhaps mushrooms, green onions and fresh tarragon. Marvelous salad dressings can be made with the healthy oil and the addition of your favorite vinegar and flavorings: garlic, onion, fresh or dried herbs and, one of my favorites, smoked paprika. Use healthy oil for your stir fry and just before plating, add a dollop of peanut or sesame oil. They add a more complex flavor. Plant and nut oils can be used in baking by substituting oils for butter or shortening. You can have your baked goodies, made a little healthier with poly-unsaturated oil.
Try the different healthy oils and see which you prefer. Check nutrition labels to see what's actually in your food . . . and leave bacon fat for special occasions.
c. 2012 - Live2AgeWell.com
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