All About Fat

January 29, 2024

Like the title, today’s show is all about fats! Dietitians Leah and Teresa are going to discuss the good fats, the bad fats, WHY we need fats in the first place, what fats help with weight loss, the best fats to cook with, what to look for on the label when buying products in the store, and how to include healthy fats in your meals and snacks. This will be an episode you’ll want to bookmark as a helpful resource when upleveling your pantry and when creating a balanced, real-food eating plan for any health goal.

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TERESA: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. We are a small Minnesota company with a big goal of spreading the real food message through life changing nutrition education and counseling. I'm Teresa Wagner, a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, and I'm here today with my cohost, Leah Kleinschrodt, who is also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian.

Both Leah and I have been with Nutritional Weight and Wellness for about nine years. And one of the things we appreciate about our work life here is that we get to wear a lot of different hats. Most of our time is spent in counseling one on one with clients. We get to know our clients, their goals for their health, their personal challenges, and so on. We also get to reach a larger audience when we facilitate classes and when we put out this information packed podcast each week.

LEAH: Yeah. Hi, Teresa. And I feel the exact same way. Just, I think the saying is variety is the spice of life. So we get to definitely feel that in our day to day work experiences here at Nutritional Weight and Wellness. And in addition to some of the things that you were just talking about, seeing clients one on one and facilitating classes, doing this podcast, many of us also write carefully researched blog articles.

We actually also take part in some of the recipe creation for the website and the cookbooks, although maybe I'm speaking more for myself, but I do have to credit my resident chef, Marianne, for just taking my amateur cooking abilities and leveling them up a couple of notches.

And then there's always little side projects that are in the works. Your biggest example, Teresa, was the month long Breaking Up Sugar Challenge that you ran in the fall. And so I think this diversity just speaks volumes to the time and the thought and the effort that Dar and other leaders in the company put into creating this helpful content, and this is for us to reach as many people as possible.

And I think it also speaks to the demand that's just out there for clear, concise and effective information so people can feel empowered about the choices that they're making with their food and their nutrition. Because let's be honest, in a world of smartphones and the internet and social media, it is very easy to get turned on your head with nutrition information, and then just not know which way is up from there.

TERESA: That's right. That's why our message at Nutritional Weight and Wellness through the last 30 plus years has remained simple and consistent. Eat real food for real health. And it's also why we've spent this month of January on Dishing Up Nutrition going back to the basics of how to build a healthy eating pattern.

A few weeks ago, we first looked at the importance and the power of protein. The following week, we talked about what real food carbs are and why we need them. And, hint, you don't need to cut out carbs completely to lose weight. So now, there's just one macronutrient left to cover. Our show today is all about fat.

LEAH: Yes. One of our favorite topics, and it's one area in nutrition that's just had so much controversy surrounding it for the last 70 years or so. I mean, there's the questions to eat fat or to not eat fat. Should we be putting butter and olive oil on our food or is margarine and canola oil, is that better for our waistline and for our cholesterol?

And even more basic questions like what do fats do in our bodies? Are there some fats that are better than others? What should I be looking for when I'm looking in the store or on a nutrition label? If I see the term organic or expeller pressed or cold pressed, what exactly does that mean?

And probably the ultimate question that a lot of our clients have in mind is all right. Well, if I want to lose weight, is eating fat going to help me or hinder me? So our goal today with this show is to answer these questions and just help you, the listeners, feel informed and confident when it comes to choosing fats for your health.

TERESA: Those were a lot of questions.

LEAH: Well, we get a lot of questions, don't we?

What do healthy fats do for us?

TERESA: That's true. And there's some great questions. And these, like you said, you know, these are very similar to what we hear from clients and from people in classes. So let's start by answering the question, what do fats do for us? Why do we care about whether or not we eat fats or whether we eat the right fats?

If we think from a body wide perspective, let's think about the makeup of our cells. Our entire body is made up of billions of cells, and every cell in our body has a cell membrane around it. And I think that this is interesting too, Leah, because when I think of cells, a lot of times we think about how we saw it in the textbooks.

So we think about them in circles when actually they're spheres, right? So that fatty membrane goes all the way around, like a membrane around a ball. So if you're thinking of a basketball, it's that the actual ball and the everything in the cell is the air that's inside that basketball.

LEAH: It's more 3D than what you're seeing typically on a piece of paper in the textbook.

TERESA: Right, right. So that membrane that goes all the way around that cell is about 50 percent lipids and cholesterol. And lipids is just another name for fat. Those lipids give the membrane its structure, but also keep it fluid and flexible. So fats are an important component of what holds our cells together.

LEAH: Absolutely. And when we zoom in a little bit more from that body wide perspective, we see that fats are important in other structures in the body. So they make up a good portion of our brain, especially those great omega-3 fats.

Fats help our skin and hair look hydrated and nourished and actually our bones. And this was something that I didn't know until I really started working here at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is bones actually have this fatty mesh component to them, and that mesh is where our minerals like calcium and phosphorus and zinc and all these other great nutrients that we get from our food, that's what those minerals stick to, that fatty mesh. So fats play a lot of structural roles in the body.

Dietary fats stabilize blood sugar

TERESA: One of the other big functions that fat has is to stabilize our blood sugar. So in this case, we're talking about dietary fats, the fats that we're eating, right? Yeah. I imagine fats being like an anchor on a boat. Dropping an anchor in the water allows the boat to move a little bit, but keeps it from drifting too far in any direction. Fat acts in a similar way with our blood sugar. Fat keeps our blood sugar from drifting too high and keeps it from drifting too low.

And paying attention to blood sugar isn't just for people who have prediabetes or diabetes. Blood sugar control is important for everyone. When we have blood sugar swings throughout the day, we can feel anxious, moody, impatient, stressed, tired and inflamed. We also have a lot of cravings. And of course, when this goes on long enough, we can struggle with our weight.

Here's another real life example: you've eaten, you know, “good” all day subsisting on egg whites and salad and fat free crackers only to binge on all the ice cream, chocolate chips, and cereal after dinner. That's wonky blood sugar catching up with you at the end of the day. Eating fat throughout the day is very helpful for keeping us, well, off that blood sugar rollercoaster and feeling more in control of our decisions around food.

LEAH: And I have to say like that example of like you said, “eating good” all day during the day. And then it kind of coming back to you at the end of the day and just having all these cravings. That was me a hundred percent for many, many years before I learned about the blood sugar stuff, before I learned to kind of balance things out earlier in the day.

So we don't have that catch up phase after dinner at nighttime when it's just that more vulnerable time in the night. So I hear that and I just I remember those phases and I remember so I always address blood sugar with clients like first and foremost because it makes such a big impact in how we show up in life.

TERESA: Yeah, and I think that so many people identify with that right; because you know like we're saying “good” being sort of diet culture ideas about eating low fat.

LEAH: Or low calorie; just not eating a lot during the day oftentimes.

TERESA: Yeah. And it's much easier to do that in the first half of the day for most people. And then, like you said, it just comes back to bite you at the end of the day, because it's like the body's trying to catch up or make up for whatever you did early in the day. And then it's like this cyclical thing. So then you go to bed and you start thinking about, oh, darn it.

LEAH: I'll do better tomorrow.

TERESA: I'll do better tomorrow. And then the first half of the day goes as we were saying, and the second half goes as we were saying.

LEAH: Yeah, rinse and repeat.

TERESA: So I think so many people identify with that.

Healthy fat helps absorption of nutrients from food

LEAH: Yeah. So yeah, when we start to especially add some of those good fats in throughout the day, it really evens out those big swings, that rollercoaster effect for sure. And lastly, fat, you know, not last, but just one of the last big things we're going to highlight here with fat is that it helps us to absorb certain nutrients much better from our food.

And oftentimes nature packages up these fat-soluble vitamins in foods that naturally already contain fat. And one great example of this is vitamin K2 and dairy products. There was a study a couple of years ago in 2017 in a journal called Current Developments in Nutrition, and the researchers in this study looked at the vitamin K2 content of a variety of different dairy products.

And they showed that full fat dairy products like whole milk, full fat yogurt, full fat cheese have 80 to 95 percent more vitamin K2 in them versus like the 0 percent fat or the low fat versions of these same products. And so just a note on vitamin K2, like what's so important about that? Why are we talking about that? Well, vitamin K2 is really crucial for telling calcium where to go in the body. We want calcium to go into our bones and our teeth and not let that calcium build up or get deposited on the inside of our arteries or really build up in our kidneys.

So if you're out there drinking milk or if you're eating yogurt to prevent osteoporosis or if you're taking a calcium supplement for your bones, that calcium will get to the bones a lot better if you get some of that natural vitamin K2 in the mix.

TERESA: Yeah, and I think that there's something to clarify here, too, with vitamin K2 because for some people, you know, a lot of our listeners are pretty educated in nutrition. They might know some things. And they might be thinking, wait a minute, I thought vitamin K was found in leafy greens and things like that. That's vitamin K2's cousin, K1, which is more responsible for blood clotting.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: And it has a little bit different role in the body. So vitamin K2 is a lot like vitamin D3 where it's not found in that many foods, but the foods you listed are some of the only sources of that K2. So it's an interesting vitamin.

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely. And it's not one that people typically think about as the first thing that pops into their head for, okay, what's a vitamin or what's a mineral?

TERESA: Mm hmm. Yeah, that's right. Well, by now you've probably guessed that we are fans of including fats in the diet. But not any old fat off the shelf will do. There are certain fats that are anti-inflammatory and will benefit the body while other fats are inflammatory and will slow our metabolism and cause more harm to the body.

So, how do we know which ones are which? For this, I think it would be helpful to take a mental grocery store tour so we can picture going through the process of choosing the right fats for our health, but also the right fats for our recipes or for the meals we're making.

LEAH: Yeah, I love that idea: mental grocery store tour. And before we launch into that tour, I just want to say just a quick note upfront that Teresa and I are going to go through a lot of different items and nuances to choosing better quality fats to have in your home, in your kitchen, in your pantry. And this might be the first time some of you are hearing this information, or as we kind of start getting going, I don't want anyone to get the deer in the headlights look.

So just know we've got you. You can find the transcript for this show on our website, which is And also know that you don't have to overhaul your kitchen and your pantry all at once. I will often tell my clients once you're about to run out of something, then do your homework and make the next best choice once you're running out of that product.

You can take it one step, one bottle, or one container at a time. And some people love to do the overhaul, but I think from a, an approachable perspective, again, if we think about just replacing one thing at a time and then making that the new normal, it becomes a little easier to wrap your head around those concepts.

So let's get back to that mental grocery store tour. One question that pops into my head is, okay, where do we find anti-inflammatory fats in the grocery store? And what I imagine, I'm standing in the baking aisle of the grocery store, and this is where you're going to see just the rows and rows of bottled oils.

They're all different colors, all different shapes and sizes. So again, sometimes it's a little overwhelming when with all the choices there. If you're like me, sometimes you pick the prettiest looking label and go from there. So probably not the best strategy. So let's just start focusing on one specific oil. Let's look at olive oil.

How to pick a good quality olive oil

TERESA: Olive oil is a great place to start because it is a wonderful, healthy fat to use in your kitchen. It's anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. Most olive oils don't go through a ton of processing to get from olive to oil. Usually the olive is mechanically pressed, heated at low temperatures, and then spun in a little machine to separate the oil from the water and the solids of the olive.

Pretty simple. But when you're standing in that baking aisle, looking at olive oils, you're probably going to see dozens of choices, maybe even more. So which one do you go with, Leah?

LEAH: Yeah, great question. Here's a couple things I look for if I'm looking for an olive oil: first I look for an oil that's in a dark colored bottle. So oftentimes it'll be dark brown or a dark green bottle. And this prevents the oil from degrading over time from exposure to light, especially a lot of times these products, they might sit for a long time during packaging and shipping and storage and then finally it sits on the grocery shelf for a while and then it probably sits in your pantry for a little while.

So you want to protect those oils from that damaging light as much as we can. Another thing I'll look for is the term extra virgin. So this means it is the first crushing of the olive, and this is considered the highest grade and freshest olive oil. It will definitely have a little more of a peppery or earthy flavor to it, but that's in a good way.

TERESA: Yeah. And I guess one of my best suggestions or my favorite suggestions for olive oils is if you can find an actual olive oil store, you can get the most flavorful, freshest olive oils. And so I know that around here there's a couple of options, but I think probably around the country there is as well. You just kind of have to look up those olive oil shops and you'll get some really good oils.

LEAH: Yeah. Great tip.

What are some ways to use olive oil?

TERESA: So now you've got a bottle of olive oil at your home, in your pantry, what do you do with it? Generally speaking, you want to use the olive oils at lower temperatures, like 350 degrees or less. Or you can use it in recipes or meals that aren't being cooked.

Heating olive oil too hot can damage some of the fatty acids in that oil. So for many of my clients, they love to use olive oil when making a salad dressing or a dip recipe. It can be a very simple mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar or something maybe a little more complex where you mix in a variety of herbs and spices or condiments.

Our chef, Marianne, recommends using three parts of olive oil to one part vinegar for a beautiful vinaigrette. And don't forget to sprinkle, you know, a pinch of salt and pepper on the salad to cut down some of the bitterness and bring out the natural sweetness of the vegetables.

LEAH: Yeah, I remember hearing that tip for the first time and it was revolutionary. Like put a sprinkle of salt and pepper on your, well, like we think about it on other vegetables, but not necessarily on salads and it makes such a difference in the flavor of that salad. I love it.

So we do have to take a quick break. We'll come back on the other side of break and do more discussions about healthy fats. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I am Leah Kleinschrodt along with Teresa Wagner and we are your hosts for this episode talking all about fats. We'll be back in a moment.


TERESA: All right, we are back to Dishing Up Nutrition and we are continuing our discussion about fat, and we left off talking about olive oil. And we were talking about dressings and using a little bit of salt and pepper on salads and how that improves the taste of the salad in surprising ways, right?

Because I hadn't salt and peppered my salad either, but when, I don't know, maybe we heard it in the same spot, but I tried it and I was like, wow, that does actually change the, it just, it reduces that bitterness. Like we were saying, it reduces the bitterness and it brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables.

LEAH: Yeah. Yeah.

TERESA: So that's what we covered. Do you have any other suggestions for olive oil?

LEAH: Yeah, well, you mentioned dips is another delicious and easy way to use olive oil. So making your own homemade hummus is actually pretty easy and that way you can guarantee that the oil in that hummus is going to be a good oil. Use olive oil because a lot of times, unfortunately, the stuff that you buy in the grocery store are more refined oils, which we’ll cover in just a little bit, or making something like a creamy avocado dip, where you take a couple avocados, which is another great healthy fat, mix in a little olive oil, maybe a few tablespoons of some kind of acid, like some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

And again, like a sprinkle of some salt and pepper and garlic, you mash that or stir that all together. It makes for a really delicious topping on raw veggies. And many of our recipes on the website also use olive oil just for a real light sauté on some of the vegetables like onions and celery, carrots.

Then they get dumped into a glass baking dish and then that dish gets baked around 350 degrees. And one of my favorite examples is our beef shepherd's pie recipe; makes a ton of food. I'm never sorry when I make that recipe. Especially here in Minnesota this time of year, this is that great comfort food type of feeling to bring that recipe out.

Avocado oil: another healthy oil to have on hand

TERESA: Yeah. Something nice and cozy and warm. Well, let's circle back to our mental grocery store tour and other oils that would be good to have in the kitchen. I like to keep a bottle of avocado oil around. Avocado oil is a very neutral tasting oil. So if someone isn't really keen on the taste of olive oil in a dressing or in another recipe, avocado oil can make a great substitute.

And because it's neutral tasting, it's a great substitute when a recipe calls for vegetable oil. So I get a lot of questions about, well, what if my recipe calls for vegetable oil? What can I use instead? Avocado oil is your go to oil. Avocado oil can also be used in cooking at higher temperatures than olive oil can.

So it's great for roasting vegetables in the oven, or if you like to sauté your veggies at a higher heat. For me, speed, right? I probably shouldn't, but I'm turning the heat up pretty high to cook my vegetables, to get it done faster. And so I use avocado oil in that case because it's too hot for the olive oil.

LEAH: Yep. Yeah, I do the same thing. I always have a bottle of avocado oil on hand for that exact same purpose just because I, you know, 350 like, yeah, there's some things that we do at 350 or less or sometimes it's hard to tell if you're doing stuff on a stovetop of like what temperature are we getting to.

Benefits and uses of coconut oil

So sometimes just even erring on the side of caution and doing an oil that can handle a little more heat like the avocado oil is super helpful. I keep a really large tub of unrefined coconut oil in my cupboard. And again, right now it's winter out, so this is, this stuff, it turns white and solid in the pantry.

Sometimes in the summer when it gets a little warmer in the house, it'll get more melty or it'll get a little more liquidy, but coconut oil, another wonderful, healthy fat and the fatty acids in coconut oil are known to be anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and coconut oil also has a special set of fatty acids in them called MCTs or medium chain triglycerides.

And this is, this is this is a term again that's, that's been around now for a little while and I think most people have heard of MCT oil or MCTs before. And these little fatty acids, these MCTs are absorbed through the intestinal tract quickly and they're a quick source of energy for the brain and body, which is unlike a lot of other fatty acids that are just a lot slower to digest and absorb.

One of our special guests on Dishing Up Nutrition, Dr. Mary Newport, has written many books and talked extensively about the benefit of coconut oil and MCT oil for people with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, and we actually had her, we've had her on the show multiple times, but we most recently had her on over this last summer. So the show was on July 8th of 2023. If anyone here is interested in doing a little deeper dive into that topic.

TERESA: That unrefined coconut oil does have a subtle yet noticeable coconut flavor to it. So just be aware that if you are cooking with it, it might impart a little bit of flavor into your food. I do love this flavor in certain recipes. And of course there are certain recipes where, eh, it doesn't, you know, we'll go with avocado oil for more of a neutral flavor, but anything that really has more of a, maybe like a Thai flavor or some sort of an Asian flavor, I really like that particular coconut oil with it.

So stir fries. We have an egg roll in a bowl recipe, the spicy coconut stew. Those are all great recipes that use coconut oil or coconut products and gives that great, yummy coconut flavor. I also, most vegetables I do not like to sauté in coconut oil unless it's going into that type of recipe, but one that I really like to marry with coconut oil is cabbage. I love to sauté cabbage with coconut oil. It's my favorite. My daughter, my nine-year-old, she loves it too. It's just the cabbage and the coconut oil and salt usually. But you can add some ginger to that or I mean garlic and fancy it up, maybe throw some protein in it as well.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: Usually when I'm making that sauteed cabbage though, I'm putting eggs over it. So.

LEAH: Okay. Yeah.

TERESA: That's a great combo.

LEAH: Yeah.

TERESA: We also use coconut oil in the pumpkin muffin recipe from our website, and I make that one often, and that uses melted coconut oil as a part of the liquid for that recipe. So, I don't really get any coconut flavor that I can taste, but it definitely is a great fat for that particular recipe.

LEAH: Yeah. Yeah. I think most, if not all, of the muffin recipes on our website use coconut oil for the good fat in there. And yeah, when you're baking, if you have something that has that sweet, if it's a sweeter profile, that's where coconut oil can really shine with that healthy fat. Yeah. So these are all such great suggestions.

And so those are definitely three oils we would encourage people to choose from that baking aisle. So think olive oil, think avocado oil, think unrefined coconut oil.

Avoid refined vegetable oils

Now, the oils we would strongly recommend that our clients leave on the shelf are the refined vegetable oils. And this term, the term is so such a misnomer because they're, they aren't really from vegetables. So let's just be clear about that. This includes canola oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil.

And I remember hearing this from one of our other nutritionists when we were teaching a class together, actually, she actually introduced me to the history of cottonseed oil and kind of how a lot of these refined oils came to be a major part of the American diet.

Back in the early 1900s, cottonseed oil was this by product of industrial cotton production. So it was a waste product back in the early 1900s, but the people who founded Procter and Gamble came along and found out like, hey, actually, if we hydrogenate this, if we turn this oil into a solid, now I can use it as soap.

And then somewhere along the line, someone had the brilliant idea to say, well, this kind of looks like lard. And it's really cheap to make. We can actually just take this and call it actually better than lard, make it edible. And this'll be a great thing for us. So I guess that's marketing at its finest?

TERESA: Yeah. And I've seen some, some old advertisements of it. And basically what they did is they sort of shamed housewives into using it because they would make lard seem like it was a dirty product and it was old fashioned. And now if you're, you know, if you're a modern woman, you're going to use this.

LEAH: Yeah. And if you want to keep a clean household, this is what you're going to use when you cook.

TERESA: Yes. Yes. Well, let's dig in a little about why it's so bad to eat these oils or why we don't want to be eating these oils. So first of all, they've gone through an extensive process to get from raw material to oil. You know, if we think about cotton, you've got that little cotton puff and then that tiny little seed, right? So how do we get from that seed to an oil product,

LEAH: Right?

TERESA: And that's how it is with most of them is how do we get from that basically a seed to oil? This process involves solvents and high heat extraction to get the oil out. Then these oils get degummed, bleached, and deodorized to make them look, smell, and taste better.

This level of processing damages the delicate polyunsaturated fatty acids in these oils. They become oxidized, create trans fats, and produce a harmful byproduct called lipid peroxidase, kind of like a rusty fat, but we could also use the term rancid. These rusty or rancid fats promote aging, inflammation, and the development of chronic diseases.

LEAH: Additionally, when we eat a lot of these oils or foods that contain these oils, we're eating a lot of refined omega 6 fatty acids, and too much omega 6 fatty acids and not enough omega 3s throw us into more of a pro-inflammatory state. So this combination of these rusty or rancid fats plus too many omega 6s, this actually increases our risk of heart disease instead of decreasing it.

And then it's another one two punch where it creates this inflammation cascade that can be involved with things like asthma, autoimmune diseases, infertility, and even gut issues like IBS. And another point that I do want to make is, you know, the problem here doesn't lie in having a few bites of sheet cake a couple of times a year that has a little canola oil in it.

Where we really start to see problems is where we eat out at restaurants several times a week because we know, unfortunately, a lot of these establishments are using a lot of these refined oils to cook food in instead of olive oil or avocado oil. So we're eating out a lot. We order fried foods that are cooked in a deep fryer with the same oil from last week. You cook with a bottle of canola oil or vegetable oil at home.

If you have a daily salad every day where that dressing that you're using has canola or soybean oil in it, that's coming in on a regular basis. A lot of coffee creamers and oat milks have refined oils in them. And if you eat just generally a lot of boxed and bagged and ultra processed foods, we're going to be getting a lot of those refined oils, the canola oils, the soybean oils. They just live in so many different foods. And the reason being is, again, we mentioned this before, these oils are cheap, which makes for a better bottom line for businesses, but not for your health.

Refrigerated dairy section: more healthy fat choices

TERESA: That's right. Well, now that we've covered the oils in the baking aisle, let's get back to our mental grocery store tour. Where else do we look for healthy fats? Let's jump over to the dairy aisle in the refrigerated section. This is where you'll find some amazing, delicious fats like butter, heavy cream, cream cheese, and sour cream. You may even find some refrigerated natural peanut butter while you're there.

LEAH: Yeah. Yeah. And I would say everything you just listed would be my kids’ absolute favorites. My husband and I, we never really bought sour cream actually. It just wasn't part of like something that we did in our household until my son saw a commercial on TV for a dollop of daisy. He needed to try it. So I bought a small container at the grocery store one day and that both kids inhaled that little tiny container. So we ended up upgrading to the Costco size container and it's the full fat sour cream. They love it. They will eat it right off the spoon or fork. So those full fat dairy products and dairy fats, they're tasty. They're versatile in the kitchen.

And actually lucky for us, the research backs it up that full fat dairy products are actually beneficial. for health. There was a paper published in 2020 in the journal, Advances in Nutrition, and they quote “Emerging evidence shows that the consumption of full fat dairy foods has a neutral or inverse association with adverse cardiometabolic health outcomes including atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and associated risk factors.


LEAH: So that's kind of a mouthful, right?

TERESA: I was going to say, I feel like you maybe should go back and say that in maybe a little bit more layman terms.

LEAH: Yeah. Well, what they're saying is eating full fat dairy foods either has no effect on your risk for heart disease or for type 2 diabetes or for obesity, or it has an inverse, so actually, the more full fat dairy products that you eat, the lower your risk is for heart disease, type two diabetes or again, metabolic issues. So that is a different message than what we have been told or what a lot of us grew up as choose skim milk, make sure you eat the 0 percent fat yogurt and all those things.

TERESA: We visit the pediatrician. They ask, what color cap is on the milk that you drink? And I'm always like, why?

LEAH: Look at you.

TERESA: And it's funny because the whole milk that we buy actually has a white cap. Which usually throws people for a loop because whole milk is usually red.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: 2 percent is usually blue.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: Skim is usually green.

LEAH: So when you say white, then it's like, oh.

TERESA: Which one, which one is that?

LEAH: That's funny.

TERESA: Which is funny. And, for my kids’ sake, I spare the conversation. We just move on to the next thing. But it's great news that this full fat dairy is the better version because I think, first of all, it just tastes better. So it's good to know that it is better for us because we're likely to eat the foods that taste good.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: One of the easy ideas that we tell people when we are talking about incorporating full fat dairy products is to ditch the coffee creamers with the canola or the sunflower oil and just put in real heavy whipping cream in their coffee.

Nobody’s suffering when they do this. Cream cheese on celery sticks or put on some nitrate free deli meat can be a delicious snack. I think putting cream cheese on green apples is really delicious too with a sprinkle of cinnamon. It's delicious. And don't forget that you can put sour cream on your taco salad or your burrito bowl or the chili that just came out of the crockpot.

LEAH: Yeah, perfect. If you're sensitive to dairy like me, and that's something that we do see often in our clients, you can do some full fat canned coconut milk in your coffee instead. It's not for everybody, but it is an alternative if you don't mind, again, like that little bit of coconut undertone to it, and you just have to go back a few aisles in that mental grocery store back to the ethnic food section to find that canned coconut milk, and I found just experimenting over the years that many recipes that might use heavy cream or sour cream can be adapted by using the canned coconut milk.

I've made creamy wild rice chicken soup with canned coconut milk before. You don't get the coconut flavor to it at all. Once you add a lot of those savory spices, salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, rosemary, things like that, it covers up that coconut flavor really nicely. And the spicy coconut stew, like you mentioned earlier, Teresa, that's another one of my favorites to use the canned coconut milk in. And then using canned coconut milk in protein smoothie recipes. Again, it's a nice, it's a wonderful, just kind of cool, creamy fat that lends itself really nicely to that protein shake consistency.

Healthy fats to find in the nut butter and salad dressing aisle

TERESA: And since we mentioned it earlier, let's go back one more aisle in our mental grocery store: the nut butter and salad dressing aisle. Maybe these things aren't in the same aisle in every store, but they are at my local Super Target. Peanut butter and almond butter are common favorites for a lot of people, but you can also find cashew butter, macadamia nut butter, sunflower seed butter, and more.

When we're looking at nut butters, just flip the jar over and check out those ingredients. If there's more than two ingredients, it should just be the nut and maybe some salt, then back on the shelf it goes. Even the nut butters that say natural on the front could have extra ingredients in it, like sugar or added oils. So this is a big area where it pays to be a label reader.

LEAH: I almost always have three or four jars of various nut butters open at once in my pantry. So this is definitely one item I definitely do my homework on before I go out and buy it. And for us, the most common ways we use nut butters in our house is usually for a snack.

Usually it's putting a couple of tablespoons, like two tablespoons of peanut butter on banana or a couple of tablespoons of almond butter on apple slices. But the peanut butter ball recipe on our Nutritional Weight and Wellness website, that's another excellent way to get your peanut butter fix, and it makes for just like a great, easy, almost treat like kind of snack.

TERESA: Yeah, I love that recipe. Okay, let's round out our discussion today with salad dressing. There's almost no better way to meet your vegetable quota for the day than to eat a big salad at one meal. So we want to make sure that our salad dressing is optimizing that salad experience. Just like nut butters, don't be tempted to accept the front of the label at face value.

Many front labels of salad dressings will say made with olive oil or made with avocado oil. But when you look at the ingredient list, you are actually going to see one of those refined oils like canola oil or soybean oil listed first before the olive oil or avocado oil. So if canola oil is listed in the first ingredients or so, and then olive oil makes an appearance later or further down in that ingredient list, we know that most of the oil in that salad dressing is canola and only a small part is the olive oil.

LEAH: Mm hmm. And that's so tricky. So again, we want to try to ignore the billboard that's on the front of the package and just go right for the information on the back of the package or go to that ingredients list that's on the back. And just on that same note, I know you said we're wrapping up with salad dressings, but I just wanted to note that what you said also applies to mayonnaise. Check the ingredients label for what type of oil is listed in mayonnaise. You say no to the canola oil, no to the soybean oil, yes to avocado oil, or to an expeller pressed oil.

Are expeller or cold pressed oils okay for any oil?

And that is another question I will get from clients from time to time also is, well, what about expeller pressed blank oil or cold pressed blank oil? So let's just talk those terms really quick because you might see these on a mayonnaise or on a salad dressing or another product. Cold pressed means that the raw materials, like the nuts or the seeds, they're crushed in the machine, and then low temperatures are used during the extraction of those oils.

So just like olive oil, it doesn't get heated up really high. Expeller pressed oils, they use a different type of machine where it's more of a screwing type of mechanical pressure to press and crush the raw material. The difference here mainly is that there might be a lot of friction with this method in getting those oils out, so it creates a higher temperature environment for those raw materials.

So both methods do avoid the use of chemicals to get those oils out, but one uses cooler temperatures and the other may experience higher temps. So overall we would say an expeller pressed sunflower or safflower oil, or if you end up seeing something like a cold pressed soybean oil, these are better options than if they were not cold pressed or expeller pressed. But it's still likely not the best choice you could make in terms of fats for your food.

TERESA: That's really good information, Leah. 'Cause we do get a lot of questions about, about those types of processing.

LEAH: Yeah. Well, our clients are smart and they are label readers, really. So they see this and they're wondering what is good or what's acceptable or what is the best option for them?

TERESA: Yeah. And I think that's fantastic. Cause that's how we learn and grow is to keep asking questions. Well, we hope this was a helpful overview of why we want to include fats in a balanced real food eating plan. We also hope this answered many of the questions you had about which fats are beneficial for your health and which fats to watch out for and how to use some of these healthy fats in your day to day meals and snacks. If there was anything we missed, or, if you have something to add to the conversation, head over to our Dishing Up Nutrition page on Facebook.

Join Our Dishing Up Nutrition Facebook Group

There, you can ask more questions, share your stories, and become a part of the bigger real food for real health movement. The movement, it doesn't grow unless we have all of you along with us.

LEAH: Absolutely. So our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to provide each and every person with practical real life solutions for everyday health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. And thank you for listening. And if you enjoyed this show, please head over to iTunes or Spotify to leave us a review and help others find our show.

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