Farewell, Low-Fat: Why Scientists Applaud Lifting A Ban On Fat : The Salt : NPR

But let’s back up a second. When and why did fat become such a big villain? As Allison Aubrey has reported, it started back in the 1970s, and with the first set of dietary guidelines for Americans in 1980. The message was: Decrease fat and you’ll decrease saturated fat.

Back then, scientists were mostly concerned with saturated fat. And indeed, the latest evidence shows that saturated fats can raise levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol. But demonizing all fat set off the fat-free boom, and a big increase in carbohydrate and sugar intake followed, which led to Americans becoming even fatter.

And, as Mozaffarian and Ludwig point out, another problem with telling people to limit total fat is that people end up eating fewer monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – the kind found in nuts, vegetable oils and fish – which are really healthful.

Now, it seems, the government has an opportunity to set the record straight on fat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services are now reviewing the committee’s report and will update the guidelines later this year.

via Farewell, Low-Fat: Why Scientists Applaud Lifting A Ban On Fat : The Salt : NPR.


6 High-Fat Foods You Should Be Eating

Fat is often associated with bad-for-you foods that can quickly sabotage any diet. Many dieters still flock to no-fat diets, opting to eat fat-free or reduced fat items. In fact, International Food Information Council data show that 67 percent of people try to eat as little fat as possible. However, if you’re part of that 67 percent, it’s time to make a change!

Contrary to popular belief, there are fatty foods that are actually good for us. Healthy fats keep us full longer, help reduce cravings for refined carbs and sugar, and can help with cell maintenance, repair, and healing, according to Shape. Additionally, healthy fats let fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants be absorbed through your digestive system into your bloodstream, and some can even help fight inflammation. Eating healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) in moderation is crucial to your overall health. Ready to begin working healthy fats into your diet? Here are 6 fatty foods you should be eating.

1. Eggs

Inexpensive and a great source of protein, you can’t go wrong with eggs. Self writes that many people operate under the assumption that egg whites are the healthier option because they contain less fat than whole eggs. While technically true, you should also be eating the egg yolk, which is packed with key nutrients.

An egg contains 5 grams of fat, with only 1.5 of those grams being saturated, meaning the rest is good-for-you fats. Additionally, whole eggs also contain choline, which happens to be an important B vitamin your body needs in order to regulate your brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular system, according to Self. The bottom line here: When you’re preparing your morning breakfast, don’t be afraid to eat the whole egg. It’s good for you!

Watch How This Expert Preps His BBQ.

Source: Thinkstock

2. Fish

Salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna are all fatty fish. But, WebMD writes that they’re good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which deliver some pretty powerful health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acid is fat your body can’t make on its own, and may help lower the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis.

How much of this fatty food should you be eating? According to WebMD, the American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fatty fish a week. Aim for each serving to be 3 ounces, relatively the size of a deck of cards. Baked, grilled, or poached, there are plenty of ways to prepare fish dishes. If you aren’t a huge fan of it, experiment with recipes to ensure you’re getting in your weekly dose of fatty acids. Your heart, brain, and joints will thank you.

Read more:  6 High-Fat Foods You Should Be Eating.

A Call for a Low-Carb Diet – NYTimes.com

People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study shows.

The findings are unlikely to be the final salvo in what has been a long and often contentious debate about what foods are best to eat for weight loss and overall health. The notion that dietary fat is harmful, particularly saturated fat, arose decades ago from comparisons of disease rates among large national populations.

But more recent clinical studies in which individuals and their diets were assessed over time have produced a more complex picture. Some have provided strong evidence that people can sharply reduce their heart disease risk by eating fewer carbohydrates and more dietary fat, with the exception of trans fats. The new findings suggest that this strategy more effectively reduces body fat and also lowers overall weight.

story continues…. via A Call for a Low-Carb Diet – NYTimes.com.

Fast Weight Loss May Mean Muscle Loss – Healthday

Fast Weight Loss May Mean Muscle Loss

Study volunteers eating 500 calories a day lost more muscle than those eating more than twice as much

Fast Weight Loss May Mean Muscle Loss

THURSDAY, May 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) — If you lose weight too fast, you lose more muscle than when you shed excess pounds more slowly, a small study says.

The researchers put 25 participants on a five-week very-low-calorie diet of just 500 calories per day. Another 22 volunteers went on a 12-week low-calorie diet of 1,250 calories per day.

The investigators found that right after the end of their diets, both groups had similar levels of weight loss. The average weight loss was a little over 19 pounds among those on the very-low-calorie diet and just under 19 pounds among those on the low-calorie diet.

The researchers then looked at the loss of fat-free mass, which includes all the tissue in the human body, except fat. The major tissues are blood, bones, organs and muscles. However, the mass of the organs, blood and bones does not change during dieting. Therefore, changes in fat-free mass during dieting are mainly due to changes in muscle mass.

Participants on the very-low-calorie diet had lost about 3.5 pounds of fat-free mass, compared with 1.3 pounds among those on the low-calorie diet. Fat-free mass accounted for 18 percent of weight loss in the very-low-calorie diet group and 7.7 percent of weight loss in the low-calorie diet group, the study found.

Four weeks after the end of their diets, reductions in fat-free mass averaged 1.8 pounds among those in the very-low-calorie diet group and 0.7 pounds among those in the low-calorie diet group. Fat-free mass accounted for 9.4 percent of weight loss in the very-low-calorie diet group and 2.9 percent of weight loss in the low-calorie diet group, according to the report.

The findings were presented Wednesday at the European Congress on Obesity in Bulgaria.

“Loss of fat-free mass was higher after rapid than slow diet-induced weight loss with similar total weight loss,” said the study’s authors, Roel Vink and Marleen van Baak, of the School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and colleagues.

However, the authors also pointed out in a meeting news release that muscle loss among people in the very-low-calorie diet was likely overestimated immediately after they completed the diet, compared with four weeks later.

This is likely because they had a larger loss of water and glycogen (a natural form of sugar in the body) when they had just completed the diet than four weeks later, the researchers explained.

Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.via Fast Weight Loss May Mean Muscle Loss.

Cooking Fats 101: What Makes Fats and Oils Essential to Cooking | Serious Eats

If you thought fats only came from slabs of meat (or that persistent pouch around your middle), then it’s time for us to have a talk. First off, fats are all over the place, and that’s not a bad thing: when it comes to cooking, fats are an essential tool in your arsenal. They’re also a much broader category than you may have realized—cooking fats span a wide array of triglycerides, from run-of-the-mill canola and fancy just-for-drizzling olive oil to, yes, those tubs of lard and sticks of creamy, delicious butter.

In this series, we’ll be talking about what makes fats special, how to tell them apart, and how to pick the best one for the job.

But getting to know your fats can be a slippery business. If wading through the myriad bottles on supermarket shelves wasn’t already a daunting task, then the latest word on saturated fats is enough to turn everything on its head. In this series, we’ll be talking about what makes fats special, how to tell them apart, and how to pick the best one for the job.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent most of your life thinking of fats in terms of their source—animal fats versus seed- and nut-based vegetable oils—with perhaps a vague awareness of terms like “refined,” “smoke point,” “saturated,” and so on. There are a lot of ways to categorize fats, but without a handle on what they actually do, chances are that none of that information is actually going to stick.

So how do fats and oils work and what sets them apart from other cooking liquids?

1. Fats are hydrophobic

In other words, fats repel water like a stinky teenage boy repels…everyone. This is probably a familiar concept if you’ve ever tried to make a basic vinaigrette—mix up some oil and vinegar (the latter, a water-based acid), and they’ll insistently separate into two distinct layers in a matter of minutes. Even oil-based emulsions like mayonnaise rely on a third party to hold each tiny droplet of oil in suspension—egg yolk, mustard, or certain starches are common choices. It may be annoying when you’re trying to dress a salad, but when it comes to cooking, that stand-off between oil and water can your secret weapon.

Take deep-frying, for instance. Properly deep-fried food relies on the tension between hot oil and steaming water. Most foods you deep fry are packed with water molecules that turn into steam at high temperatures. As that steam escapes, the outer layers of food (whether it’s a bare potato, a breaded chicken cutlet, or a battered onion ring) dry out, some of that water getting replaced by more flavorful fat*. Meanwhile, proteins coagulate and brown, creating the crisp, golden crust that’s the hallmark of perfectly fried food. Check out our guide to deep frying for more info!

*despite what some folks tell you, food fried at higher temperatures actually absorb more oil than those fried at cooler temperatures

2. Fats conduct heat, and can do so at higher temperatures than water

Even a thin layer of fat conducts heat, and unlike water, it won’t evaporate at high temperatures. When you baste a roast in fatty pan drippings, that coating functions as a temperature buffer, allowing your food to heat evenly and preventing the exterior from drying out before the interior is fully cooked. Now, think back to that elementary school science class on phases changes: Under normal conditions, water cannot be heated past its boiling point—212°F at sea level. Fats, on the other hand? We’re talking potential temperatures of 400, even 500°F. That’s hot.

And hot is exactly what you want when you’re looking for a great sear or crust; it isn’t until you hit temperatures above 300°F that the delicious browning known as the Maillard effect take place in earnest, and the higher the temperature, the faster those reactions occur

3. Fats lubricate food

Ever wonder why recipes tell you to preheat your sauté oil? When you throw a raw steak onto a dry, searing-hot pan, all its surface proteins reach out their tiny protein arms and grab hold, forming covalent bonds with the metal surface. Add some nice, hot fat to the mix and that heat will change their shape; the proteins lose their ability to, erm, cling. We’ve got the full explanation here, but here’s the moral of the story: fat in your pan = sticking averted.

4. Fats affect flavor

We all know that fat affects flavor thanks to the mouth-coating richness that butter or olive oil can impart to a dish. But fats do more than add textural nuance. Many of the flavor compounds that make herbs and aromatics such compelling seasonings are what we call fat-soluble, meaning they’ll actually spread and coat your tongue better when they’re immersed in lipids. Using fat in anything from marinades to braises helps coax out, layer, and evenly distribute flavors.

Of course, some fats do more than just distribute flavor—they provide it. “Pure,” unrefined or minimally refined oils like extra-virgin olive, sesame, coconut, and hazelnut oils, for example, have easily recognizable flavors; others, like canola or peanut oils, are neutral. Depending on what you’re making and how you’re making it, flavored oils can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

via Cooking Fats 101: What Makes Fats and Oils Essential to Cooking | Serious Eats.

An original post? Chia as a fat replacement!

Hey all –

I’m now in my second semester of the MS of Nutrition program. The first was a lot of basic stuff that didn’t lend itself to sharing. Biochem (painful and not really nutrition oriented), biostats, community nutrition and food service management – not really thrilling stuff.

This semester though I have Advanced Nutrition, Advanced Food Sciences and a Research class. The first two look really promising to finally start learning.. well what I wanted to go to school for.

For advanced food science we have to write a proposal substituting something into a recipe to make it healthier. From there we’ll analyze it with a bunch of tools and do taste tests. Here’s my rough draft. I think it’s an interesting idea! My project may not get done in our lab, but I think I’ll give it a go at home. Thought I’d share!

1. Introduction and Overall Goal

            Obesity, and associated conditions, affect 97 million Americans and are the second leading cause of preventable deaths. Associated conditions include high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and other health problems.1  Foods high in fat are also high in calories, as fat has a high energy density. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans concluded that diets low in energy density aid in weight loss and weight maintenance.2  

Besides completely changing diet, one way to reduce calorie and fat consumption is to produce foods lower in fat.  This has varying levels of success, as fat adds to sensory enjoyment, such as mouth feel, moisture and texture. Fat also traps air and aids in structure.3  For a fat replacer to be acceptable, it must maintain functional and sensory characteristics.4

Chia seeds have been successfully substituted as a fat and egg replacer in cake and Chia flour has been used to increase the nutrient profile of bread. 4, 5 The purpose of this project is to extend that research to brownies, as they have a different texture and color than the previous baked goods tested.  Chia would be used to substitute fat at 35%, 45%., and 55%  Previously 25% was shown to show no significant difference for color, taste, texture and overall acceptability, while above 50% showed a decrease in volume. 4 This project would seek to find the level that is most acceptable to consumers while increasing the nutritional benefits derived from chia.

2. Background

Salvia hispanica L, more commonly known as Chia seeds, are native to Southern Mexico and Guatemala.  They contain a high amount of oil at 25-38%, sixty percent of which is alpha-linolenic fatty acid.  This is the highest known percentage from a plant-based source. They are also a good sources of protein, dietary fiber and phenolic antioxidant compounds.6   Evidence shows that diets high in fiber and alpha-linolenic fatty acids aid in diseases associated with obesity.7,8

Previous substitution in cake has shown that including chia seeds in place of fat lowered calories from fat, as well as also reduced saturated fat and improved the fatty acid profile.  Functional properties of the cake were not statistically different from the control cake at below a 50% substitution. Above 50%, cake began to lose volume and became more dense.  Sensory results indicated that at high levels of substitution, from 50%-75%, panelists rated the sensory evaluation as “neither like nor dislike.”  In our project, we would seek to find the level of chia where individuals polled still overall liked the product and functional properties were maintained from the control.


1. National Institute of Health Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults . Circulation 1998.

2. Pérez-Escamilla R, Obbagy J, Altman J, Essery E, McGrane M, Wong Y, Spahn J, Williams C. Dietary energy density and body weight in adults and children: a systematic review. J Acad Nutr Diet 2012; 112(5):671-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.01.020

3. . Hahn,N. Replacing Fat With Food Technology: A brief review of new fat replacement ingredients. J.Am.Diet.Assoc 1997;97:15-16.

4. Borneo R, Aguirre A, Leon A. Chia (Salvia hispanica L) Gel Can Be Used as Egg or Oil Replacer in Cake Formulations. J Acad Nutr Diet 2010; 110(6):946-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.03.011

5. Iglesias-Puig E, Haros M. Evaluation of performance of dough and bread incorporating chia (Salvia hispanica L.). Eur Food Res Technol 2013;237:865–874.doi 10.1007/s00217-013-2067-x

 6. Cyléia S, Costa B, Celestino H, Fernandes P, Schuelter J, Oliveira O, Evelázio N, , Vergílio J. Antioxidant capacity and chemical composition in seeds rich in omega-3: chia, flax, and perilla Food Sct Technol 2013; 33(3):541-548.

 7. Ailhaud G, Massiera F ,Weill P, Legrand P, Alessandri J, Guesnet P. Temporal changes in dietary fats: Role of n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in excessive adipose tissue development and relationship to obesity. Progress in Lipid Research 2006; 45(3):2013-236. DOI: 10.1016/j.plipres.2006.01.003

8. Slavin, J. Dietary fiber and body weight. Nutrition 2005;32(3):411-418. DOI: 10.1016/j.nut.2004.08.018

Exercise Can Turn Bad Fat Into Good Fat – Medical News today

Researchers have found that exercise helps “bad” fat transform into a form of “good” fat that is more metabolically active.

The findings were presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 73rd Scientific Sessions.

Humans have two types of fat:

Brown fat (the good fat) – this type of fat burns through calories to generate body heat.

White fat (the bad fat) – this fat develops as a result of storing excess calories, it is just an energy reserve.

People with more brown fat are generally slimmer and better able to stay warm when it is cold, whereas individuals who have high levels of white fat tend to live more sedentary lifestyles.

In this study, the researchers found that mice and men who underwent an intense exercise regime experienced a browning of their subcutaneous white adipose tissue (SCWAT).

The exercise regime had the men training on an exercise bicycle for 12 weeks and the mice running on an exercise wheel for 11 days.

Related article: “There is more brown fat in leaner children compared to overweight or obese kids”Compared to the original white fat caused by sedentary behavior, the new, browner fat, was much more metabolically active.

The researchers transplanted this trained browner fat into sedentary fat mice to see how the browner fat might affect the way their bodies use glucose. They found that after the transplant the mice had increased glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity for at least 3 months.

Kristin Stanford, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, said:

“Our results showed that exercise doesn’t just have beneficial effects on muscle, it also affects fat. It’s clear that when fat gets trained, it becomes browner and more metabolically active. We think there are factors being released into the bloodstream from the healthier fat that are working on other tissues.”

It is still uncertain whether browner fat is having the same impact on humans as there is currently no way to try out fat transplantation on human beings.

Senior investigator of one of the studies, Laurie Goodyear, PhD, and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, said:

“We know that exercise is good for us. But what we’re showing here is that fat changes dramatically in response to exercise training and is having good metabolic effects.

This is not the fat that’s around your middle, which is bad fat and can lead to diabetes and other insulin resistant conditions. It’s the fat that’s under the skin, the subcutaneous fat that adapts in a way that appears to be having important metabolic effects.”

In conclusion the study reveals that browner fat is associated with a better body composition, lower fat mass and increased glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity in mice.

Stanford says the findings provide even more motivation to go out and start exercising. Even if you don’t lost weight, the study suggests that exercising will still train your fat to be more metabolically active and improve overall metabolism and health.

via Exercise Can Turn Bad Fat Into Good Fat.

Let Them Eat Fat || WSJ

Let Them Eat Fat

Listening to the doctors on cable TV, you might think that it’s better to cook up a batch of meth than to cook with butter. But eating basic, earthy, fatty foods isn’t just a supreme experience of the senses—it can actually be good for you.


The hysterical crusade against fat has become a veritable witch hunt. With New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s ban on supersize sodas (now temporarily thwarted) and the first lady’s campaign to push leaves and twigs (i.e., salad) on reluctant school children—all in the name of stamping out obesity—it is fat-shaming time in America. Yes, there are countertrends, like the pro-fat TV shows of Paula Deen and Guy Fieri. But in the culture at large, eating that kind of fat has become a class-based badge of shame: redneck food (which I say as someone who likes rednecks and redneck food). It isn’t food for someone who drives a Prius to Pilates class.

[image]F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal; Food Styling by Brett KurzweilEating basic, earthy fatty foods can actually be good for you.

Until now, evidence was weak that the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of heart disease. But a New England Journal of Medicine study reveals startling new findings that will silence skeptics for good. WSJ’s Andrea Petersen has the details on Lunch Break. Photo: AP.

But there’s another world of fatty foods, a world beyond bacon and barbecue—not the froufrou fatty foods of foodies either, but basic, earthy, luxuriant fatty foods like roast goose, split-shank beef marrow and clotted cream. In the escalating culture war over fat, which has clothed itself in sanctity as an obesity-prevention crusade, most of these foods have somehow been left out. This makes it too easy to conflate eating fatty food with eating industrial, oil-fried junk food or even with being or becoming a fat person.

Preventing obesity is a laudable goal, but it has become the rationale for indiscriminate fat hunters. It can shade into a kind of bullying of the overweight, a badgering of anyone who likes butter or heavy cream. To the antifat crusaders, I say: Attack fatty junk food all you want. I’m with you. But you can deny me my roasted marrow bones when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.

I’m not suggesting that we embrace these life-changing food experiences just on grounds of pure pleasure (though there’s much to be said for pure pleasure). As it turns out, the science on the matter is changing as well. We are discovering that fatty delights can actually be good for you: They allow Spaniards, Italians and Greeks to live longer, and they make us satisfied with eating less. I’m speaking up not for obesity-generating fat, then, but for the kind of fatty food that leads to swooning sensual satiety.

Roast goose, for instance, is a supremely succulent, mind-alteringly flavorful fatty food. In most of America, roast goose would be viewed as the raven of cardiac mortality, hoarsely honking “never more.” And listening to the doctors on cable TV, you might think that it’s better to cook up a batch of meth than to cook with butter.

Eating fatty foods has become the culinary version of “Breaking Bad”: a dangerous walk on the wild side for the otherwise timid consumers of tasteless butter substitutes and Lean Cuisine. Soon the fear-of-food crowd will leave us with nothing but watery prison gruel (whole grain, of course) and the nine daily servings of kale, collards, spinach and other pesticide-laced and e-coli-menaced greens and fruits on the agribusiness-promoted “food pyramid.”


Still worse is the ninth circle of food hell to which the fat-phobic ninnies have consigned us: egg-white omelets. Continue reading

Great article on good cooking oils…

4 Alternative Cooking Oils That Belong in Every Kitchen

It’s easier than you think for unhealthy trans fats to sneak into your menu, which is why these good fats are essential for healthier cooking


Past research has shown that women with heart disease are particularly susceptible to sudden cardiac death if they regularly consume trans fats in food. And a recent study just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who ate the most trans fats had a 51 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer than women who ate the lowest amounts.

Given all the bad press trans fats received a few years ago, you might have thought they were as out-of-vogue as smoking lounges or lead paint. However, “they’re definitely a big problem that people need to look out for,” says Trevor Holly Cates, ND, a naturopathic physician with a practice in the Golden Door Spa at the Waldorf Astoria in Park City, Utah, and a board member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. She pegs the problem to our love of processed foods, which rely on partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (the number one source of trans fats) because they’re cheap and last so long. The problem of processed foods become exacerbated by the fact that the Food and Drug Administration legally allows manufacturers to say that a serving contains zero trans fats if the actual amount of trans fat doesn’t exceed 0.5 grams. That’s a quarter of what the American Heart Association recommends most Americans eat per day. So a lot of people are eating trans fats without realizing it, or while thinking that they’re eating trans-fat-free foods.

“Stay away from processed foods,” Cates says. “The more we process foods and alter them from what’s found in nature, the more problems we create.” Cates also argues that, when it comes to home cooking, we shouldn’t be replacing margarine and partially hydrogenated oils with regular vegetable oils, either. “Vegetable oils are made quickly and cheaply, and with the processing, it does change them so they’re not as beneficial,” she says. For instance, the heat and harsh chemicals used to extract oil from vegetables can destroy some of the vitamins and antioxidants that should make vegetable oils healthy. Plus, research has shown that overheating vegetable oils releases lung-damaging and potentially cancer-causing particulates into your kitchen.

Instead, Cates recommends you use healthier, less-processed cooking oils that can withstand high heats and have long shelf lives naturally. “A lot of oils are delicate and they oxidize quickly,” she says, either when heated to high temperatures or after they go rancid. “It’s important for people to know when that happens, because when an oil goes rancid, it can be more harmful than good.” The oxidation process creates alterations at the cellular level that can promote cancerous cell growth, she says.

“The foods you eat should be feeding you and providing nutrients,” she says. So if you want to get the most benefits from your cooking oils, rather than replace your harmful trans-fat oils with other potentially harmful vegetable oils, try one of these good fats instead:

#1: Grapeseed oil. Cates’ favorite cooking oil is grapeseed oil, an oil that probably isn’t familiar to most people. It’s popular in France and, Cates says, is great for sautéing, stir-frying, and other high-temperature cooking methods. “With other oils, high temperatures cause them to change molecular structure and oxidize,” she says. In addition, she says, grapeseed oil has been found to improve heart health: Animal studies have shown that rats fed grapeseed oil have lower levels of cholesterol than rats fed lard or soybean oil. Also, it’s high in protein and fiber. It has a light flavor, so it works well when you need a neutral-tasting oil to cook with.

#2: Coconut oil. Coconut oil has gotten a bad reputation because it’s has so much saturated fat, as much as 92 percent. “But there are a lot of health benefits that go beyond just what kind of fat it is,” Cates says. For instance, coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a nutrient our bodies need to help our immune systems. One of the only other major dietary sources for lauric acid is breast milk. “But I’d only use a teaspoon,” she cautions. That way you get the health benefits without overdoing the fat. Coconut oil comes in a variety of forms, so you want to be sure you get the right kind. Extra-virgin centrifuged coconut oil has a light coconutty flavor, making it good for baking (if you want a little extra flavor in your cookies or cakes), whereas expeller-pressed coconut oil has no flavor at all and is a good substitute for butter or shortening. You can buy certified-organic coconut oil online from Wilderness Family Naturals.

#3: Ghee. “If people are trying to choose between a hydrogenated oil and butter, definitely go for butter,” Cates says. “We would be better off if we got back to using butter and less of these refined oils.” Ghee is essentially clarified butter, made by melting down butter until all the water evaporates and just the butter solids are left. The process concentrates the conjugated linoleic acid, a healthy cancer-fighter, found in butter. “When you clarify butter like that, it does seem to handle a higher temperature, as well,” Cates says, i.e. it becomes more stable and won’t oxidize when heated. The key to good ghee is making sure it’s organic. “When you’re talking about fats and dairy products, all the environmental toxins concentrate in the fat,” she says. Ghee, however, like coconut oil, is high in saturated fat, so use just a teaspoon when cooking. You can find organic, grass-fed ghee through Pure Indian Foods.

#4: Olive oil. There’s seemingly no end to the health benefits of olive oil. It’s good for your heart, high in healthy monounsaturated fats, and it just tastes good. But the healthiest high-quality, extra-virgin olive oils don’t handle heat well, so Cates recommends reserving them for salad dressings. Lower-quality refined olive oils that can withstand high heats (sometimes labeled “pure” or “extra light”) have been heavily processed using heat and chemicals, and contain as much as three times less of the polyphenols and antioxidants that make extra-virgin olive oil so healthy.