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Ok, so as always, in the field of nutrition and dietetics there are 10 million hot topic items. One topic that stands out to me is the discussion of fats, in particular, saturated fats. Are they good or bad? Is one saturated fat better than the other? Can I cover everything I eat in bacon?


So I start this blog with a disclaimer. Diet is not and has never been a singular nutrient concept and nutrient recommendations revolve around science. This excludes personal testimonial and assumptions. Just because Johnny Abbs and his lifting buddy, Tommy Pecks (we all know these guys) are on the Paleo diet and have killer deltoids that does not mean the Paleo diet is what we should all follow. There is much more to his deltoids than his diet. The same holds true for the discussion of fats.


Lets start at square one. Fat is not bad. Fat is utilitarian. Without fat we will die.  This is fact.



  • provides us with energy
  • insulates and protects our bodies
  • transports nutrients
  • is needed for cell development
  • tastes good
  • has great cooking qualities.



This all sounds great, but fat is a double bladed sword. Too much of this energy dense chemical can easily add extra calories. If you are not careful this can add extra body weight and increase the chances of heart disease and stroke. Too little and you can run the risk of deficiency. Current recommendations for dietary fat intake range between 25-35% of total calories. Children and adolescents need a slight increase up to 40% due to their high-energy needs. However, it is not just fat that we need to focus on. There are 4 main types of fat.  And in each main type of fat there are many other fats, just like there are many types of cars. Each fat, or car for example, has a positive and negative. Small cars get better gas mileage than large trucks, but at the cost of cargo space. Saturated fats are great for baking, but in excess it is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. It really boils down to the entire diet. There is more than one-way to eat badly. Eating badly more often increases the risk of chronic disease and can decrease quality of life.  Below is a quick run through of the 4 fats.

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So this all sounds easy and drama free. Here is how the topic of fat can become controversial. First, foods do not have just one type of fat.  Even salmon, one of out fat heros has saturated fats.  So to eliminate all of one type of fat can be difficult and unnecessary.

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Second, anyone can claim anything they want because, well, who is going to read stuff like this besides me.  It made me want to scratch my eyes out, but I still read it. And then others can hear or read those claims and make well intentioned, yet incomplete assumptions. The fact of the matter is, some people either neglect or lack an understanding of the scientific method and how to interpret and actually do research. Or they are trying to make money. I am sure that people can produce a million articles claiming that fats are not that bad or that we are being “tricked” by those still promoting a limited fat diet. Trust me, there are not a group of dietitians and doctors sitting in the back room of a dark restaurant after hours discussing how they want to make food less appealing by limiting fat. If you were to actually look through available, valid research you would first see that limiting fat does not mean eliminating fat. It means not eating chicken wings with blue cheese dressing as dessert to a 24 oz bacon cheeseburger. If a person is exceeding the recommended fat intake by a few percent while living a otherwise healthy diet I won’t be too concerned. Again, diet does not focus on a singular nutrient. There are many other factors that go into overall health, and groups such as American Heart Association know and preach this. Our recommendations of fat intake are not unique to just us here in the USA. The Nordic Nations still recommends limiting saturated fats to <7% of total dietary intake. Yes, their upper limit of fat intake is 5% greater than ours, but again, fat intake is only a small piece of overall health. Even the Institute of Medicine and the European Food Safety Authority nutrition recommendations are similar to ours. So please don’t bring all this “The 10 food additives banned in Europe” crap. Black Ivory Coffee sounds great but I challenge you to use the “if they do it in (insert country here) we must be doing it wrong here” argument.


In short, stop worrying so much about whether or not you should use coconut oil to sauté your vegetables. Use it and then make sure you make other healthy fat choices. And I am certain that we can all agree this does not include a 14 oz rib eye with 5 cups pasta and buttered garlic bread. Focus on fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, low fat dairy, and leaner protein options with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil, eggs, peanut oil, walnuts, safflower oil, most nuts, olives, sunflower seeds and oil, soy beans, tofu, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and trout.  You can still have steak, but be adventurous and try using leaner meats in place of higher fat meats, or… maybe even try vegetarian protein options. I personally like pork chili.  Eat well, be well, live well.

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Pork Chili

Serving Size: 1 ½ cups

Serves 10

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 8 hours on Low and 4 hours on High



– 1 pound pork, cut into cubes

– 15 oz canned black beans, drained and rinsed

– 15 oz canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed

– 15 oz canned no salt added corn, drained OR 1 cup frozen corn

– One package Chili Seasoning Mix 30% Less Sodium, McCormick, or make your own spice blend

– 2-fifteen oz canned no salt added stewed tomatoes, undrained

– 8 oz canned tomato sauce

– 1 large onion, diced

-*optional, ¼ cup chopped cilantro

-*optional, chop up any other vegetables you have in the kitchen (raw or frozen) like zucchini, bell peppers, broccoli, green beans, carrots, etc.



Step 1: Don’t think too much.  We are using a crock pot.

Step 2: Put all ingredients in a 8 qt. or larger crock pot.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.  Literally that is it.  There are no rules saying that cooking has to hard.

Eat with a side of brown rice or corn bread.  And if you are feeling crazy replace the pork with 2 pounds chopped extra firm tofu.

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