With all the information and misinformation surrounding fats these days, the thought of decoding which ones are the “healthy fats”, defined very differently depending on who you talk to, may seem overwhelming! Fortunately, my friend, Sarah Pope, The Healthy Home Economist, delivers a thoroughly researched, heavily referenced, concise guide. This no-nonsense book on dietary fats, Get Your Fats Straight, cuts through the mess of propaganda that has bombarded us all.
One of the most harmful changes brought about by the modern industrialization of our food supply was the replacement of the natural, nutrient-dense fats our ancestors thrived on, with processed vegetable oils–oils historically new to the human diet. This radical change was based on two factors: bogus science that vilified saturated fat and cholesterol (thank you, Ancel Keys), and the edible oil industry’s financial interest, including the backing of the propaganda most of us grew up with.
In contrast, during the early part of the 20th Century, Cleveland dentist, Dr. Weston A. Price, traveled the world studying pre-industrial, traditional cultures, specifically in relation to diet and health. Among these populations whose health far surpassed most Americans, he learned that the natural fats present in their most revered, “sacred” foods, were actually “key to sustaining a healthy immune system and supercharging mineral absorption,” allowing for superb bone, facial, and dental development. Indeed, dental cavities and dental malformations were hardly to be found. Sadly, changes brought about by food industrialization damaged the health of some of these same people groups. Even to the extent that the first generation born to parents who had abandoned their traditional diets for modern “foods” displayed visible changes in bone structure (i.e. narrow faces), crowded, cavity-filled teeth, malformed dental arches, and other deformities, as well as suffering from the typical health problems seen in industrialized countries: diabetes, heart disease, depression, and cancer.
But take heart, because as Sarah says, “the hand that stirs the pot in the kitchen rules the family’s health.”
Get Your Fats Straight empowers the reader to take back control of their kitchen from food companies, with an emphasis on replacing industrial, inflammation-causing, unnatural oils with those of our ancestors. In this accessible, practical guide, she begins with a simple, 3-step jump-start plan to get your family’s health back on track.
1. Replace margarine, spreads, and liquid oils with the best butter you can afford. A surprising bonus: reduced sugar cravings and improvements in digestion (the fascinating reasons explained later in the book).
2. Begin supplementing with cod liver oil. Sarah also sorts through the mass of information on marine oil products on the market to help the reader choose the best quality supplement. (This is the kind both Sarah & I recommend.)
More detailed information follows on each of these superfoods, but she doesn’t stop there. Sarah explains in detail the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, and K2, as well as the fatty acids in these nourishing fats and the consequences of deficiencies or imbalances in dietary fatty acids (as seen in the most common health problems Americans experience). For example, did you know that children who drink skim milk suffer 5 times more gastroenteritis as children who drink whole milk? Or that our cell walls should be comprised of over 50% saturated fat, and that lack of saturated fat causes weaker cells and defective intercellular communication?
Or that farmers use skim milk to fatten up their pigs, but diets high in natural saturated fats help people lose weight?
Sarah then delves into other sources of healthy fats, how to cook safely with each type of fat, with consideration given to smoke points, and even how to approach eating healthy fats if you’ve had your gall bladder removed. She includes sections on egg yolks, fish eggs, liver, lard, olive oil, and flaxseed oil. Then, just as you feel the book is complete, she tops it off with recipes for simple, nutritious meals rich in butter and other nutrient-dense fats for your family to enjoy. The newly-revised Get Your Fats Straight could be the most important information resource for someone transitioning from a processed food diet to one of real, whole foods.
Mainstream sources of information on the subject (such as the USDA) are so rife with misinformation and conflicts of interest (i.e. Pepsi and M&M Mars are major sponsors of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics–formerly the American Dietetic Association), that everything they say must be taken with a grain of salt. (Make that unprocessed sea salt, but that’s a post for another day.) In a climate of corporate interest-driven misinformation and confusion, Get Your Fats Straight is a breath of fresh air and a source of hope for those who want to take control of their family’s health.