Fatty Choices, Part 1

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How do you choose the right fats and oil for you?

Fatty Choices, Part 1

Posted by RACHEL MATHENGE on JANUARY 12, 2019

How do you choose the right fats and oil for you?

Fats are one of the three macronutrients that our body needs. The other macronutrients are carbs and protein. Fats are necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E, and K. They are also essential for brain development, blood clotting and control of body inflammation. Fats also provide us with energy. Fats have been one of the most controversial nutrients especially in the United States where a low-fat diet is encouraged starting at a very early age. I remember when my daughter was two years old, I took her to the pediatrician for her annual checkup. The pediatrician advised me to introduce low-fat dairy products to my daughter’s diet instead of whole fat. While there is an emphasis on low-fat consumption, I feel like there is not enough focus on recognizing healthy fats.


The U.S department of health and human services has a range of daily fat intake recommendations based on age and gender, and the number is way below what you would consume on a ketogenic diet. People who have grown accustomed to (consciously or unconsciously) follow the department of health dietary fat consumption guidelines may find shifting to a high-fat diet challenging at first. With that said, it is important to figure out which fats are healthy especially on a high-fat diet like a ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is high fat, moderate protein, and low carb diet.


Before I got on the ketogenic diet wagon, my daily dietary fat consumption was very low, I would say below 30% daily intake, which is below the U.S department of health current recommendation based on my age. On the ketogenic diet, my daily dietary fat consumption went up to 70%. That was a big shift and it took a while to mentally get accustomed to it. The reality of this sank in when I decided that the Ketogenic diet was going to be a lifestyle change, not a shor term fix as I had initially planned. This prompted me to start paying attention to the fats and oils I was consuming. The more I researched the more I felt like I was getting into a rabbit hole with no end in sight, but l learned a few things that have helped me choose the fats I eat on a regular basis.


Fats are a very broad topic of discussion and would take more than one post to cover all the aspects. Coming to a conclusive decision that everyone can agree on which fats are healthy is not an easy task, but we can all agree that if you look in your pantry or fridge, there is some fat or oil seating there.


How did you make the choice to buy that fat or oil? Was it from an advertisement or a friend’s recommendation? Was it because that’s what your parents always used? Did the price determine which fats or oil you bought? Was it the flashy advertisement on the label which convinced you that having more vitamins, omega 3s added was a better option?


When it comes to choosing the fats and oils I use on a regular basis, I mainly focus on the value I intend to get from consuming these fats, which includes but is not limited to,


Nutrition value

I believe how the food is raised or grown has an effect on the taste and nutrition level. Therefore my first choice is usually natural fats found in meats, seafood, poultry, avocados, and nuts. I always go for free-range poultry and eggs, wild caught fish and grass-fed meats. A couple times a month I indulge in processed meats like bacon and sausage, but I try to stay away from processed meats. When it comes to processed fats like butter and ghee I go for grass-fed as well.



The ketogenic diet has been associated with high consumption of saturated fats. However high amounts of saturated fats are not required to get into ketosis. I like the MCT oils made from coconut oil, not just for the energy provision but also for the health benefits. MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides. It is quickly processed by the liver to produce ketones that the brain uses for energy. MCT oil is a food supplement which also counts towards the daily fat macros.


Anti-inflammatory benefits

Not all fats help reduce inflammation in the body. Monounsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation and have tons of other health benefits. Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids include fish and seafood like salmon and oysters, mackerel. Grass-fed meats, pasture raised poultry and eggs, walnuts and flaxseed are other sources of omega 3 fatty acids.


Cold pressed olive oil and avocado oil are high in monounsaturated fats and have anti-inflammatory benefits.


Smoke point

Even the most healthy fats can be damaged if exposed to high heat. Before I knew this, I randomly bought the cheapest cooking oil to deep fry my food. I figured I was going to need a lot of it and therefore saved money buying the cheapest oil. While in the middle of deep frying mandazi’s (Kenyan donuts) or samosas (delicious meat-stuffed pastries), I would notice the oil changing. The oil would go from clear to smoky to dark. This meant I was submitting the oil to more heat than it could withstand, hence exceeding its smoke point. Smoke point is the maximum temperature oil can withstand before it burns and becomes damaged. Burnt oil loses its nutrition value, as well as changes the food’s flavor profile. Knowing the smoke point of the oil is beneficial in preserving the quality of the foods cooked in it. Fats and oils with a high smoke point can withstand high cooking temperatures like deep frying and those with a low smoke point are great for salads and sauteing at medium to low temperatures. For instance, olive oil has a low smoke point 325 – 375 degrees while avocado oil has a smoke point of around 500 degrees.


These are some of the factors I look for when choosing which fats and oils to use. I will cover more on this topic in my future posts. To be notified of future blog posts, please subscribe below.  Stay tuned for Fatty choices, Part 2.


Knowing the right food choices for you and your family is one of the ways of taking control of your health.

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