Does fat make you fat or is fat healthy for you?
Well, let’s start with this. In the “old days” fat was evil. Fat they said, makes you fat. So America started turning to the fat-free craze. The problem was that lead us to high obesity and diabetes rates. Why? Because companies substituted fat with sugar and other bad things to help with the taste of their highly processed poison. We then became addicted to the sugar and the taste of this “food” causing havoc on our bodies. As we learned in a previous article, sugar, not fat, is the main cause of heart disease, diabetes, and many other diseases.
Eventually came the opposite fad of “Fat is good. Our bodies need fat.” And the “Fat doesn’t make you fat” crowd. And Americans still became fat.
So what’s the truth? The truth is somewhere in the middle. Our bodies need fat. But it needs good fats. The phrase should really be “Good fats don’t make you fat.” Or better still, “Good fats make you healthy”. Many studies now have shown that eating good fats keep you healthy and reduce your risk of heart disease.
In a couple of weeks we will talk about GMO foods and other unhealthy processed foods. Oils are no different. Stay away from the following commonly overly processed and GMO fats. Stay Away!
- Corn oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Palm and Palm Kernel oil
- Soybean oil
- Canola (Rapeseed) (Conventional) oil
- Sunflower Oil (and most seed oils)
- Vegetable Oils
- Mayonnaise (unless home made from good fats)
- Peanut Oil
- Hydrogenated oils (and anything that says hydrogenated)
Types of Fats
Monounsaturated Fats (MUFA’s)
MUFA’s are good for us and we get them from both plant and animal foods. They can become rancid at high temperatures and are also found in some unhealthy foods as well like processed oils such as canola oil.
Studies show that the healthy ones have the following benefits:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Lowers LDL cholesterol, particularly the small dense dangerous kind.
Examples of healthy MUFA’s
- Olive Oil
- Avocados and Some Veggies
- Nut Oils
- Beef Tallow
- Chicken Fat
- Duck Fat
- Other animal meats
PUFA’s include some essential fats such as Linoleic Acid and Omega-3 fats (alpha-linoleic acid (plants) and EPA and DHA (Fish, Wild game, grass-fed meat).
The two most essential are Omega-3 (anti-inflammatory, good) and Omega-6 (inflammatory, bad yet essential). Because Omega-6 is bad, you need to have at least the same amount (1 to 1 ratio) of Omega3 to Omega6. But because of unhealthy oils and processed foods, most Americans have a 1 to 20 or higher ratio. This causes inflammation and disease.
Studies show that Omega-3’s have the following benefits especially when reducing Omega-6:
- Reduces inflammation
- Promotes cardiovascular health
- Protects your brain
- Helps prevent metabolic syndrome
- Helps prevent chronic diseases
- 70% reduction in heart attacks
- Protection against cancer
- Lowered mortality rates
Studies show that being deficient in Omega-3’s and higher, unbalanced levels of Omega-6 give you a greater risk of:
- Heart Disease
- Chronic Inflammation
- Higher prevalence of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- Higher prevalence of ADD, Violence, Depression, and Suicide
Examples of healthy PUFA’s
Omega 3 (enjoy)
- Fatty Fish
- Grass-fed meats
- Other seafood
Omega 6 (enjoy but limit)
- Nuts (best)
- Seeds (best)
- Highly refined vegetable oils (Avoid)
- Ultra-processed packaged food (Avoid)
Unsaturated fats are fats that have “holes” where they are missing hydrogen molecules. Processed oils are those that are hydrogenated (added hydrogen) which then makes a fake oil. Avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils as they become trans fats (see later).
Saturated fat is fat that has hydrogen naturally saturated into it. These come from meats, dairy, and other sources. These are healthy fats and should not be avoided. Some of the confusion comes in because eating some carbohydrates increases levels of some saturated fats in our bloodstream which causes heart attacks. Let me be clear, these are saturated fats that enter our bloodstream because of carbs and sugars, not the intake of fats. It’s the fat that the liver turns into fat from the carbs and sugars.
Studies show that saturated fats have the following benefits:
- Enhances proper hormone and immune system function
- Suppresses inflammation
- Contains vitamins
Saturated fats can hold up to higher temperatures so are great for cooking for frying because they are less likely to break down and oxidize.
Examples of healthy Saturated Fats
- Organic humanely raise beef tallow
- Pork lard
- Duck fat
- Chicken fat
- Coconut Oil
There was some thought about how saturated fats cause high LDL cholesterol and that causes heart disease. Turns out, there are 2 types of LDL cholesterol, large and small, large seems to be safe, small is not. This causes an issue with early studies and now we know how to tell the difference. Vegetable oil (polyunsaturated fat) causes lower cholesterol than saturated, but studies show that increases their rate of heart attacks.
Artificially hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils and highly processed oils are bad bad bad. These are called trans fats. These are the fats that were made by food scientists to make things like Twinkies last longer and invented the near plastic food margarine.
Studies show that trans fats have the following harmful effects:
- Chronic Inflammation
The FDA has finally removed trans fats as safe and they are supposed to be weeded out by this year (2018). Look for the word hydrogenated and stay away from soybean and vegetable oils (including canola) at all costs. Don’t trust labels that say zero trans fats. Loopholes cause lies.
So what are good fats?
Well, there are:
- foods with good fats
- foods which are mostly fats
- and then fats
Eating a large percentage of your calories as good fats is healthy. Please enjoy the following:
Let’s take a look at foods that contain high quality fats:
(NOTE: Although healthy in general, nuts can cause inflammation and issues with some people. Use caution)
- Grass-Fed Beef
- Chia Seeds
- Poultry: organic
- Wild Game
- Almond Butter
- Macadamia Nuts
- Pine Nuts
- Brazil Nuts
- Sunflower Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
Here are the healthiest high quality fats and are also MUFA’s, Mono-Unsaturated Fats. Organic, cold pressed, raw, unrefined please!
- Olive oil (extra virgin)
- Hemp (unrefined) oil
- Coconut (unrefined) oil
- Almond oil
- Macadamia oil
- Tea Seed oil
- Grass fed organic butter
- Grass fed organic Ghee
- Pecan oil
- Hazelnut (unrefined) oil
- Avocado (unrefined) oil
- Flax (unrefined/cold pressed) oil
- Hazelnut (unrefined) oil
- Beef Tallow
Although the following are not the healthiest, if you follow the guidelines they can be enjoyed with some limitations.
- Sesame Oil (unrefined, raw)
- Safflower Oil (unrefined, raw)
Not all oils should be used in every situation
Most people use canola oil or vegetable oil for cooking. But since they should not be used, we need to know which fats are good for cooking, and which should be used for dressing and cold. Here’s the confusion and dilemma. Most people use the smoke point of oil as the rancid point. People thought canola oil, having a high smoke point of 470, allowed for deep frying. However what people didn’t realize is it became rancid and carcinogenic well before the smoke point because the molecules broke down at lower temperatures. Most of the “healthy fats” especially unrefined have low smoke points and breakdown points. There is a thought that olive oil becomes rancid at a low temperature and coconut oil at a high temperature. The truth is that refined coconut oil (unhealthy) versions have high smoke points. But extra virgin olive oil actually has a higher smoke point than the healthier unprocessed coconut oil. However, there is some breakdown before the smoke points for olive oil where coconut seems to hold up higher. I cook with olive oil all the time. It’s fine. BUT you must use a lower temperature and heat slowly. In most cases of long higher heat, use coconut but still stay on the lower side (375 degrees). Here’s a breakdown of healthy fats and how to use them.
Fats Better for cooking:
- Unrefined Coconut Oil
- Grass fed Butter or Ghee
- Macadamia Oil
- Almond Oil
- Pecan Oil
- Hazelnut Oil
- Avocado Oil (unrefined/raw)
- Tea Seed Oil
- Rice Oil/Rice Bran Oil
- Beef Tallow
Fats Best used cold for dressings or last minute tossing. They are sensitive to high temperatures.
- Safflower (Unrefined)
- Flax (unrefined)
- Hazelnut (unrefined)
- Olive (Extra Virgin Cold Pressed)
- Hemp (Unrefined)