Don’t fear ‘fat’
When people watch me cook, they’re especially surprised by how much olive oil I use. It’s true. I love the taste. It doesn’t only make food taste better but it’s incredibly healthy as well. Olive oil isn’t the only healthy option but the idea that ‘fat makes you fat’ is a completely outdated one.
Fats: guilty of obesity?
Increasing obesity could be blamed on fats, especially saturated fats. With the motto ‘Fat makes fat’ some governments are planning on eliminating as much fat as possible from the industrial food chain. The USA is at the forefront of this push: based on fat reduction recommendations, the market for low-fat products has developed significantly over the last few years. Nevertheless, the obesity problem has only increased. In the late 1990s, there was already talk about an American Fat Paradox.
So, there is a valid reason to cast doubt on the recommendations regarding reduced fat intake.*
If fat is not the only cause of obesity, then what is?
Not fat, but the excessive consumption of fast, modified carbohydrates is the most significant cause of obesity.** If you eat more carbohydrates than you need – especially fast, modified carbohydrates – your body immediately converts them into fat. Since your body can only store a limited amount of carbohydrates, it’s best to limit your carbohydrate intake to healthy, natural carbohydrates and avoid the unhealthy, modified, fast carbohydrates.
Those who follow my way of cooking will see that I use quite a lot of oil, but no modified carbohydrates. The combination of various fats with plenty of vegetables and fruit form the mainstay of my healthy and slimming way of eating.
There are different types of fats and they all have different functions in the body.
Particularly saturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats are a source of energy. Poly-unsaturated fats provide energy, but they also supply important building blocks for neural pathways in the brain, keep blood vessels and (brain) cells smooth, play an important role in signal transmissions in the brain, are involved in processes of inflammation and coagulation and have an effect on the immune system. For this reason, it’s very important to consume a variety of fats, just as it is important to eat a variety of foods such as vegetables, fruit, fish, shellfish, meat and nuts.
Saturated fats on their own are not bad. The human body makes them itself. There is not a single study that can prove that they’re bad. Remove the saturated fats from the food chain and you achieve the opposite effect. Some studies show that coconut oil protects against diabetes and it’s a commonly known fact that the metabolism rapidly converts saturated fats into energy.***
But those who maintain an unhealthy lifestyle: lots of fast, modified carbohydrates; not much exercise and too much saturated fat, do create a problem. The excessive carbohydrates are the greatest danger. Your body immediately converts most of the carbohydrates into saturated fats. Moreover, if you continue to eat saturated fats, a conflict arises: your body produces saturated fat and you add to it by ingesting more saturated fat. That gives rise to infection, especially in the fat around the belly. Infections are at the root causes of a lot of lifestyle ailments such as type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a variety of cancers.
The message is:
- Avoid modified, fast carbohydrates and substitute them with healthy carbohydrates, mainly vegetables and fruit.
- Those who do this, have no reason to fear saturated fats.
Unnatural fats, avoid at all costs!
- Modified fats.
- Hydrogenated or solid fats are fats that are artificially hardened, like margarines.
- Trans fats are formed by the industrial solidifying of fats.
- Don’t cook on high temperatures and never let your fats burn.
- Avoid fast, modified carbohydrates, or eat only in moderation.
- Enjoy fats in moderation, they’re not unhealthy and they don’t make you fat, on the contrary!
- Use good fats, particularly extra virgin olive oil and omega-3 fats.
- Use coconut oil for cooking at high temperatures, coconut fat is a healthy saturated fat.
- Vary your fats.
My fundamental cooking oil is extra virgin olive oil. In addition, I use coconut oil because it can handle high temperatures. On occasion, I use natural butter, mainly for the taste.
In addition to extra virgin olive oil, I vary my fats by using different types of nut oils.
I really love the taste of olive oil. It not only adds flavor to your dishes but it’s also one of the healthiest fats available. This has been proven in a number of clinical studies. Last year, I went to Spain, in search of a particularly tasty olive oil, which I now import myself.
* W.H.M. Saris, The recommended carbohydrate- and fat- macronutrient composition in our food, Dutch Magazine for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, 2005; 30: 191-195.
** Remko Kuipers, The Paleo Diet. The extremely healthy way to grow old, Prometheus, 2014
*** Professor Frits Muskiet LN 11 May 2013