Good-quality, whole food based fats are essential to our existence and an important part of a healthy diet.
My generation grew up hearing a major fallacy. We were told that eating fat made you overweight and sick. Because of this, so many people are scared of eating fat in their diets. But this has been a long, falsely perpetuated misconception, at least where healthy fat is concerned. And the science is now proving it.
Healthy fats provide fuel and energy for the body’s proper functioning and can have many additional health benefits:
- Lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke,
- Reduces unwanted inflammation and blood pressure,
- Decreases bad LDL cholesterol levels, while increasing good HDL,
- Promotes healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system,
- Balances metabolism and helps establish healthy weight,
- Required for the absorption of some critical vitamins, the essential fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Now, here’s a big caveat. Highly processed, easily oxidizable, and inflammatory industrial vegetable seed oils, which we’ve been told for decades are so much better for us, are actually a big villain and should be avoided. See the list below.
So, which specific fats are good and not good?
Whole food sources like avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, and even quality animal-based fats can all be part of a healthy diet.
Oils should be attained through expeller-pressed methods, in which the oil is extracted from the nut or seed in one step, relying on force. Unlike toxic chemical processing, expeller-pressed oils are safe and provide a nourishing food. The industrial vegetable seed oils, though, are typically extracted through chemical processes, often using toxic substances.
Another key risk of consuming bad industrial seed fats occurs because of a process called oxidation. Oxidation is a disaster for the body, and another main driver of diseases, including heart disorders, cancer, and strokes. This is one reason that most vegetable oils are a problem. The bad ones oxidize easily.
The good news is, by replacing bad fats with healthier ones, you’re not having to cut something succulent out of your diet. Instead, you’re simply swapping it with a form of fat that is much healthier and actually tastes better. It’s a win-win!
Best Types of Fats and Oils to Use:
(Diversity is important, so mix it up and get a variety each day.)
- Olive Oil (always extra virgin, cold-pressed)
- Avocado Oil
- Coconut Oil (virgin)
- Tallow and Lard (from good sources, like grass-fed animals)
- Butter and Ghee (Clarified Butter) (grass-fed is best)
- Palm Oil (sustainably sourced)
- Smaller amounts of cold- or expeller-pressed, unrefined nut and seed oils, such as macadamia, walnut, and sesame. Flax, chia, and hemp are also considered to be decent sources.
- Full-Fat Dairy. For those that can tolerate dairy, this can be a good source. (Organic, grass-fed sources are best.)
- Quality, Grass-Fed Animal Fats.
Fats and Oils to Avoid:
(Almost all processed foods contain one form or another of these toxic fats.)
- Sesame (unless used cold-pressed in things like salad dressing, but never in processed foods or to cook with)
- Most non-stick cooking sprays (some new companies are using avocado or coconut oils, which may be better)
- Anything labeled “Vegetable Oil,” “Shortening,” or with words “Hydrogenated” or “Trans Fat” on label.
There are so many benefits to getting enough healthy fat in your diet. Though it’s important to note that even with healthy fats, you want to make sure you reduce your sugar and refined carbohydrates (breads and pastas) in conjunction with eating more good amounts of fat. They do not make a good combination in excess.