Cooking with Healthy Fats

Fat has traditionally been viewed as a foe to the health conscious or those looking to shed pounds. However, essential fatty acids offer a variety of benefits and are an integral part of our health. In a Q&A article published on, Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard School of Public Health and Amy Myrdal Miller, M.S., R.D. of The Culinary Institute of America explain why it’s time to debunk the “low fat is best” myth.

Here is the skinny on fat:

  • Low-fat diets are not for all. A low-fat diet may work for some but not others. Not everyone is able to keep their blood, weight, blood glucose and cholesterol levels under control with a low-fat diet. Low-fat diets are usually high in carbohydrates and many of those on low-fat diets feel hungry soon after eating or have spikes in blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
  • Fat-free is not always healthy. Some foods naturally contain a little fat and are excellent choices to include into your diet. Other foods, such as processed “low fat” and “fat free” foods often contain high levels of salt, sugar and carbohydrates. Fat-free foods may not always be the healthiest option.
  • Eating fat won’t make you fat. The long-standing myth is that eating high-fat foods contributes to weight gain. In reality, weight gain is a result of consumption of calories from any source, whether it is fat, carbohydrates or protein.
  • Not all fats are the same. Some are healthier than others. The healthiest type of fat is unsaturated fat. Oil from fish, plants and nuts, such as peanuts, are an excellent source of unsaturated fat and can improve blood cholesterol profile and lower triglycerides, and in turn, lower the risk of heart disease. Many foods contain different types of fats. The secret is to consume foods that have higher levels of healthy fats (unsaturated) and that don’t contain trans-fat.

There are so many ways the foodservice industry can incorporate healthy fats. Here are some ideas on how to use healthy fats:

  • Cook and bake with healthy oils: Oils from olive, canola, soy, peanut, sunflower, corn and other plants are high in healthy unsaturated fat.Consider baking with vegetable oils and reducing the amount of butter. According to experiments conducted by The Culinary Institute of America, consumers prefer the taste and texture of pound cake made with canola oil instead of butter. Use stable oils like peanut oil when deep frying or stir frying.
  • Serve healthy fats at the table: Offer customers a variety of healthy options. For example, display extra virgin olive oil or nut oils instead of butter, or peanut butter instead of cream cheese.
  • Offer more menus with fish, nuts or tofu: Expand your menu with healthier options. Add salmon or turkey burgers to the hamburger list or offer tuna steak instead of rib eye. Peanuts and tofu are an excellent protein source for stir fry.

Remember, the foodservice industry plays an important role in educating the public about accurate health information and inspiring customers with healthy menus. For delicious recipe suggestions using healthy fats from peanut and peanut oil, visit

Source: Menus of Change