By Margaret Condrasky, Ed.D., RD, CCE, and Marie Hegler
The American Culinary Federation’s
Chef & Child Foundation and
Clemson University have partnered
to offer a series of monthly “Culinary
Nutrition News” articles. Written by
experts, they bridge the nutrition gap
for chefs by providing up-to-date
research information. Articles are
posted at www.acfchefs.org/CNN
the first Monday of each month.
What is so mystifying about lipids? For
starters, lipid is just a fancy way of referring
to fat. Also, in conjunction with lipids is the
perplexing idea of good and bad fats, not
to mention the equally puzzling concept of
good and bad cholesterol. All of this good
and bad talk relating to lipids has some
chefs confused to the point of giving up
on deciphering which fats bring taste as
well as nutrition to the table. Leave those
worries behind as we reveal the importance
of fats and healthful applications that will
leave customers’ palates satisfied and their
mouths watering for more.
fats and not-so-good-for-you fats. The
recommended suggestion is that fats
should account for approximately 30%
of your daily calories, with saturated fats
accounting for no more than 10% of your
total fat intake. Yet, the real emphasis
should remain on the type of fat. Vegetable
oils, avocados, nuts and seeds may derive
85-100% of their calories from fat, but they
are considered good fats because they are
primarily composed of unsaturated fats.
The skinny on fat
A common misconception is that fat is
bad for you. Fats are important in terms of
both nutrition and culinary applications. A
growing amount of research suggests that
certain fats (the unsaturated kind found in
plants and fish) may offer protection against
heart disease, stroke, inflammation and
type 2 diabetes. Fats are also essential to
food for texture, flavor and nutrient delivery.
Ranging from hard solids to liquids, fats are
essential to the physical functions of foods.
For example, they provide a medium for heat
transfer in high-temperature cooking, such
as frying and sautéing.
Once you understand the types of fats in
foods, it will be easy to strike a balance
between flavorful cooking and good health.
Depending on their structure, the fats
in foods can be classified as saturated,
monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.
However, most foods contain a combination
of fats with one kind being predominant.
Although all fats are high in calories, they
are not all equal. There are good-for-you
Saturated fats are found mostly in meat
and dairy products such as heavy cream
and butter, as well as tropical oils such as
coconut and palm oils. They tend to be solid
at room temperature and have lower smoke
points. Saturated fat tends to increase blood
cholesterol levels and has been associated
with arteriosclerosis (hardening of the
arteries). The combination of a diet high in
saturated fat and a diet high in cholesterol
can increase the risk of heart disease.