The Mediterranean Hoo-Hah.

Have you seen my staggeringly awesome bio at Steve’s Original? If you’re wondering who my heroes are, what my worst workout EVER was, and what I look like when I’m NOT a cartoon, check it out here!

This post inspired by this post by the brilliant Dr. Kurt Harris. His blog will make you smarter. In particular, Harris said:

Eventually the world is going to stop pussy-footing around the fact that saturated (technically, a misnomer – more on that later) & animal fats are not only delicious, but they’re incredibly good for you. In fact, I believe that highly saturated fats are the only fats one should cook with. Period. I’d cook with coconut oil, palm kernel oil, pastured lard, and ghee from 100% pastured, grass-fed cows. I use LOTS of ghee.

Know what? Saturated fats are the MOST resistant to oxidative damage (cooking/heat causes oxidative damage, and to drastically oversimplify, oxidation/O3:O6 imbalance are among the true causative factors in modern disease). And modern, fake, industrially-produced fats like corn, canola and soybean oil, as well as non-pastured animal fats (which are equally unnatural), are uniformly bad for you. Monounsaturated fats, lauded as healthy, are simply middle-of-the-road when it comes to oxidation (much more vulnerable than saturated fats, and less vulnerable than PUFAs). Saturated fats have been demonized by decades of bad science, but if you’re brave enough to wade through Good Calories, Bad Calories, you’ll get where I’m coming from.

The “Mediterranean Diet” farce is just an example of trying to fit the above-stated FACT (that fats ARE healthy) into a politically-correct box so nobody has to outright admit they were wrong about fat all along. The MD still supports the deluded, profit-driven lie that “Whole grains” are good for you, while giving half-baked PC credit to the true health food: Fat. Dietary fat is both healthy AND powerful in regulating insulin, appetite, and happiness (see photo below).

I would go so far as to say their Vitamin D-loving sun exposure may have something to do with it as well.

You’ll notice that they’re happy not because they eat Olive Oil or other plant-derived fats, but because they eat a fatty, animal-derived product. Unfortunately, just about the only Politically Correct foods nowadays are vegan. It’s truly a crock of pot. The most nourishing fats, and the fats consistently present in the diets of traditional cultures (cultures who experienced nearly perfect health) were natural, pastured, nourishing animal fats from raw dairy products, marrow, and organ meats. And animal fats aren’t totally saturated anyway – this is the greatest myth of all. See the chart below for some mind-blowing data.

Data from Know Your Fats by Mary Enig, PhD.

So, if highly saturated fats are the most heat-stable and oxidation-resistant, and not a true singular cause of CVD, AND if pastured animal fats deliver, in excellent proportion, the Omega 3 PUFAs that we desperately need AS WELL AS the fat-soluble vitamins that nourish us fully, why would we waste time with other plant oils, especially the industrial ones?

I promise, vegetables and meats roasted with ghee are as delicious as when they’re roasted in olive oil. Olive oil is for salads, not for heating. Oh, and PS? We went to Greece. We toured the islands of the stinkin’ Mediterranean. And they ate olives, sure – and they drizzled salads with olive oil. But they never cooked with it. We ate tons of stewed lamb, seafood, fresh raw yoghurt, seafood, raw milk cheese and tzatziki. We got tons of SUNLIGHT too.

Olives & Tzatziki

Lamb on the bone, stewed with potatoes. Yes, potatoes. Get over it, PaleOrthodoxy.

For more drool-worthy food porn, check out my post on our Primal Honeymoon.

There are a few folks in the American nutrition community who aren’t afraid of fat. Atkins deflowered me back in college, so I got over my fat-phobia a long time ago. Losing 15 lbs. and finally being able to sleep through the night’ll do that to ya. The 3x fat CrossFitting Paleo-Zoners convinced me. My research confirmed things, and my continued health set this knowledge in stone.

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9 Responses to “The Mediterranean Hoo-Hah.”

  1. Also, isn’t it interesting that our bodies choose to store fat largely in saturated forms (stearic, palmitic, and myristic fatty acids)?

    So don’t you dare burn off any fat, else you will be metabolizing dangerous saturated fat 🙂

  2. I still cook with it. I put a thin layer of it on some Grass-Fed Ribeyes I grilled last night. I don’t saute with it much, preferring to use Grass-Fed butter.

    There are some facets of Paleo life I don’t think I will ever latch onto.

  3. I gotta ask: how do you know your food wasn’t cooked in olive oil?

    I’m not Greek myself, so I might be missing out on some regional subtleties of the cuisine (haven’t been to the islands yet), but my partner is Greek and I’ve spent many months in Greece, I don’t think I’ve eaten anything cooked (seriously, even vasilopita!) that wasn’t cooked in olive oil.

    Those lamb and potatoes are incredible, though.

    • Valid question! And there may have been some menu items that WERE cooked in OO, but the ones we chose – the “traditional” dishes on Sifnos like stewed lamb, pork, roasted octopus, mussels – they never were cooked in it. The menus are very descriptive (when they’re translated). We ate tons of salads with OO drizzled on them, but never did the menus or sweet proprietors describe a single entree cooked in it. A few dishes were stewed with wine, but they described fully how stewing the meats for days brought out the flavor of the fat. We were encouraged not to leave the marrow, either.

      We actually had a hard time purchasing OO until we got to Santorini, which is more tourist-friendly. Most of our HM was spent in the smaller cities, and there were few shops oriented toward tourist expectations. There wasn’t a bottle to be had on Sifnos or Milos. We begged a bottle off of a baker in Sifnos, whose shop was full of other regional stuff, but no OO. He poured us some out of his personal kitchen. The products they were most proud of were their chickpea stew and “Milos cheese.”

      So my observation was of a small corner of Greek island life, but I was very surprised to see how little they relied on OO! I was hoping to take much more home with me. I do like OO, but when it comes to cooking (and the Mediterranean diet) I just don’t think it’s as common as it’s made out to be!

  4. This is a great post. I admit I had no idea about cooking vs eating fats and which should be used for which. Thanks for the info! Also, where do you get your ghee from? I am a ghee rookie as you can tell.

    Thanks!
    Christina

    • I order my ghee from Pure Indian Foods. They’re only about an hour from my home, but they ship and I hate driving 🙂 They make their organic, grass-fed ghee in the Ayurvedic tradition and I really, really love that. They’re also the chapter leaders of their regional Weston A. Price foundation chapter and really understand the nourishing properties of grass-fed dairy fat. http://www.PureIndianFoods.com. TOTALLY worth the price!

      You can make it/clarified butter yourself as well, but I just really enjoy this stuff!

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