The Skinny on Fats – A Healthy Look

Fats are fabulous! I repeat, fats are fabulous, wonderful, delicious, and necessary! We in the biz know the flavorful, rich mouthfeel that fat imparts in our food and the key role fat plays in certain cooking methods. So many recipes would not be possible without fat!

But for years, many of our customers have been brainwashed into believing that all fats need to be avoided at all cost, and that’s just not the case. Our bodies need fat to function and the best way to accomplish that is by incorporating foods that contain healthy fats.

Healthy fat consumption is a hot topic. Many diet fads promote elevated fat intake as part of a balanced diet and lifestyle. Our more health-conscious customers are looking for these items and fatty keywords when making dining decisions.

What is a Healthy Fat?

Good fats are broken into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated categories. Found in seed and nut oils and fattier fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel and anchovies, these fats improve heart health by reducing artery clogging cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.  However, trans fats such as lard and hydrogenated oils have the opposite result when used excessively.

How to Incorporate Healthy Fats into our Menus

The easiest way to incorporate healthy fat is by cooking with high-heat stable monounsaturated oils like avocado and grapeseed. These are best for pan searing, sautéing and frying.

Coconut oil has mixed reviews regarding its overall health benefits. A bit of an anomaly with its high saturated fat count, it promotes good cholesterol and is the popular oil of choice for those following Keto and Paleo diets.

Hemp seed oil is a popular polyunsaturated fat that has moved from the nutritional supplement aisle to the kitchen pantry. Be wary while cooking with coconut and hemp seed oil, both have a relatively low smoke point of 350°. Avocado and grapeseed oil max out at over 450°. Advertising the use of these healthier oils may draw more customers to your door.

Finish dishes or make vinaigrettes by pairing nut and seed oils like hazelnut, walnut, or flax with high quality olive oil. While cooking with these oils is not advised since it may turn bitter, they will add flavor to your recipes and increase the healthy fat quotient.

Popularity and the massive improvement of gourmet tinned seafood has hit the culinary scene by storm. Used in entrees, sauces, appetizers, salads and the like, tinned seafood proves to be a clever way of upping the healthy fat content of menus. This is especially big with tapas style restaurants. Look for brands like Jose Gourmet Sardines, Cantabrian Anchovies, Ramon Pena Mussels and Ortiz Ventresca Tuna. 

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Patterson Watkins

Patterson Watkins

Professional Chef/Recipe Development/Nutrition Expert/Food Photography

Patterson Watkins is a freelance recipe developer and industry consultant. She has dedicated over 15 years to food service management, encompassing restaurants and corporate dining. Patterson’s work has been featured in Taste of Home, Better Homes and Gardens, American Lifestyle and Urban Outfitters. For more information about Patterson and her work please visit pattersonwatkins.com.

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