Do you fear the term ‘Fatty Food? Did you know there are some myths related to eating certain foods high in fat? That all fats are not bad for us, in fact, some can actually help reduce harmful fats in our body!
Most of us nurture a love-hate relationship with fats. We love them because most high-fat foods contain the flavor and texture we find utterly satisfying. At the same time, we avoid them because over consumption can lead to obesity, elevated cholesterol levels, an increased risk of heart disease, and the list goes on …
We decided to delve deeper into the chemistry of some foods that are loved yet shunned due to an increasingly watchful eye on healthy eating. Three foods that are considered taboo in our diets because of their high fat content: Ghee, Avocados and Almonds.
Fatty Food # 1 – Ghee (clarified butter)
It is commonly used in South East Asian cooking and, like butter, is made from milk. It’s made by lightly simmering butter to reduce it, until most of the water has evaporated, and skimming off the impurities – leaving behind the golden-coloured Ghee. It has a unique, distinct taste and smell. It is extremely high in saturated fats* and cholesterol. 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of Ghee contains 5 grams of fat, of which 3 grams are saturated fats. This contains 10 mg of cholesterol. (Source: Purity Farms Organic Ghee)
Myth #1: Ghee is BAD for us!
Should we revisit the facts?
Interestingly, in 2 separate studies carried out in India in 2002 and 2010, Ghee was found not to adversely affect the total cholesterol/High-Density-Lipid (HDL) ratio. (Source: Green Med Info)
Why should we include Ghee in our diet?
- Good source of fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K.
- Long shelf life and doesn’t need to be refrigerated, making it appropriate for those with Lactose or Casein intolerance.
- Medicinal properties and lubrication of the digestive system, the reason ayurvedic practitioners recommend it.
- Contains Butyrate, a short-chained fatty acid that is anti-inflammatory and improves the functioning of the digestive system.
- Its ‘smoke point’ (when the pan starts smoking and harmful free-radicals* are released) is higher than that of olive oil, butter and coconut oil, allowing it to be used to cook at high temperatures.
Ghee can also be used topically, to massage and for wound healing. In an animal study carried out in 2008, a combination of Ghee and turmeric was shown to stimulate the vaginal wound healing, following surgery. (Source: Green Med Info)
Important: When buying Ghee, go green. Look out for brands from grass-fed cows and other organic options (free from pesticides, hormones and not genetically modified). Also, remember that 1 heaped tablespoon of solid Ghee is much more than 1 tablespoon of liquid Ghee, so keep an eye on your portions.
Fatty Food # 2 – Avocado
Avocado is a versatile food, easily found in supermarkets and added to smoothies, to make salads and dips. It has a high fat content.
Myth #2: Avocados are BAD for us!
Should we revisit the facts?
An Avocado is a nutritional powerhouse! It contains mainly the good (mono-unsaturated)* fat, which according to the American Heart Association, have a positive effect on health when eaten in moderation. They can also help reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood, lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Here is the nutrition facts of Avocado:
|1 cup sliced Avocado (146 grams)||Nutrition|
|Fats||21 grams fat of which 66% are the healthy mono-unsaturated fats|
|Carbohydrates||12 grams, of which 79 % is fiber|
|Vitamin E||3 mg|
Why should we include Avocado in our diet?
- It contains Vitamin E, an anti-oxidant that protects against free-radical damage and coronary heart disease.
- Having a cup of Avocado a day ensures you are getting a significant intake of fiber, needed for regular bowel movements and to feed the good gut bacteria.
- It is high in Potassium, a mineral that is an electrolyte*, which has many essential functions including muscle contraction, transmission of nerve impulses and maintenance of water balance.
Eating foods that contain Fat, Protein and Fiber give a sense of satiety. So next time you make your salad, add a cup of Avocado and it will keep you full for longer.
Fatty Food # 3 – Almonds
Almonds are crunchy, filling, and an easy snack to carry in your bag to give you sustainable energy throughout the day. They add a crunchy texture to porridge, smoothies and salads. They are high in fat, containing about 50% fat.
Myth #3: Almonds are BAD for us!
Should we revisit the facts?
Most of the fat contained in Almonds is mono-unsaturated*, (as in olive oil) and is therefore, ‘heart healthy’. Almonds also have anti-cholesteremic* agents, promoting the reduction of cholesterol levels in the blood. A human study conducted in Spain over a period of 4 weeks where participants were given Virgin Olive Oil, Walnuts and Almonds, showed that a ‘Nut Enriched Diet’ has cholesterol-lowering properties.
Here is the nutrition facts of Almonds:
|Fats||6 grams of which 63 % are monounsaturated fats|
|Vitamin E||3.1 mg|
Why Should We Include Almonds In Our Diet?
- Almonds are high in Vitamin E.
- Almonds, like Avocado, are low in Carbohydrates, and high in Protein, Fats and Fiber. This means they increase satiety and keep you full for longer.
The bottom line is; include Almonds in your diet (if you are not allergic to them), but keep an eye on the portion size.
Myth #4: Fats are BAD for us!
Should we revisit the facts?
What’s important is the source and type of fats you are including in your diet. If your main fat sources are nutritionally dead foods like chips, sugar-rich ice cream, doughnuts or cheese-laden pizzas, you should swap to healthier fats such as nuts, seeds, fish, chicken, etc.
EAT FAT TO LOSE FAT
Why We Need to Eat Fat?
Adults aged 19 years and above should get about 20 to 35% of daily caloric intake from fat (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). As 1 gram of fat is equivalent to 9 calories, we don’t need to consume much.
We need fats for many important body functions, including:
- A provision of energy and insulation for the body.
- The structural constitution of cells
- The creation of hormones
Here’s how you can ‘Watch Your Fat intake’. When buying packaged foods you can use the NHS recommendations to read nutritional labels to identify the ‘High Fat Foods’.
|Total Fat (per 100 grams)||Saturated Fat (per 100 grams)|
|High||More than 17.5 grams||More than 5 grams|
|Medium||Between 3 to 17.5 grams||Between 1.5 to 5 grams|
|Low||Below 3 grams||Less than 1.5 grams|
Granola Bar Recipe
2 3/4 cups Rolled Oats
1 cup Almond Butter (see recipe below)
3/4 cup Honey (or to taste)
3/4 cup Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut
1/2 cup Chopped Walnuts
1 cup Chopped Almonds
1 cup Dried Cherries
1/2 cup Dried Plums
4 tbsp Flax or Chia Seeds
1 tbsp Cinnamon Powder (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- In a baking tray, lined with baking paper, bake the oats, nuts and coconut for 10 minutes. Stir once or twice until lightly brown.
- Place in a large mixing bowl and add in all the other dry ingredients.
- In a medium saucepan over medium/low heat, melt the Nut Butter together with Honey and 3/4 cup water until fully combined and runny.
- Pour Nut Butter mix over dry ingredients.
- Combine together with a wooden or metal spatula, until all dry ingredients are coated with the butter, this is an important step or the bars will come out dry!
- Spread evenly into a baking pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Once it cools, cut into bars and store in fridge for up to one week. You can vary the granola bar flavor by adding Cacao nibs, a variety of nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
Almond Butter Recipe
2 cup Almonds
(Makes 1 cup Almond Butter).
- Use a food processor to grind the Almonds until they make a fine powder.
- Take a spatula and periodically scrape down the sides.
- Process this powder repeatedly for many more cycles (depending on the power of the processor).
- Eventually, the Almonds will release their natural oils and blend together to make a smooth, creamy butter.
This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any diseases. It serves purely informational, educational and self-empowerment purposes. Please consult your doctors when unsure.
Sujata Din is a Certified Holistic Health Coach based in Singapore. Sujata assists clients all over the world through individual face-to-face consultation, as well as consultation over Skype, telephone, and Email. She equips clients with tools, information, and strategies that lead them to better health, higher energy levels and, ultimately, a happier disposition. On top of individual consultations, Sujata conducts workshops on nutrition, cooking demonstrations and pantry overhauls.
You can find out more about what Sujata does, on her website: https://sujatadin.com/