Healthy Fats and Dangerous Fats
All fat is NOT created equal!
Fat is one of the three critical macronutrients; along with protein and carbohydrates. Some fats are super-health-boosting; and, others are super-health-busting.
Health-building fats support your brain, hormones, immune system, heart health, and moods. Health-busting fats pretty much bust all of these (brain, hormones, immune system, heart health, and moods). So, this is why the information I’m sharing today is so important.
As a general rule, the fats from whole foods that are the least processed will be the healthiest for you. But, you already knew that, right?
So let me give you a definitive list of the fats to use, and the fats to ditch.
Health-boosting fats are from:
- Nuts and seeds (hemp, flax, and chia)
- Pasture-raised/grass-fed animals/eggs
I love “virgin” oils, and here’s why. Getting the oil out of a whole food involves some processing. Sometimes it’s by squeezing, or heating. Other times it’s by using chemical solvents. The word “virgin” is used to show minimal processing (and no solvents!).
According to the World Health Organization’s Codex Alimentarius:
“Virgin fats and oils are edible vegetable fats, and oils obtained, without altering the nature of the oil, by mechanical procedures, e.g., expelling or pressing, and the application of heat only. They may be purified by washing with water, settling, filtering and centrifuging only.”
For example, Extra virgin olive oil must:
- Be cold pressed
- Not contain any refined olive oil
- Possess superior quality based on chemical composition and sensory characteristics.
Don’t you think these standards ensure higher quality? I sure do!
Plus, the minimal processing helps to maintain some of the quality of delicate fat molecules, as well as their antioxidants. Win-win!
Health-busting fats are from:
- Seed and vegetable oils like safflower, soybean, and corn oils
- Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated
Hydrogenated oils are particularly bad; this is because they contain small amounts of “trans” fats. Studies show that trans fats lead to insulin resistance, inflammation, belly fat. They also drastically raise the risk of heart disease. Lose-lose!
Don’t forget, we’re not just talking about buying bottles of these fats for home cooking. We’re also looking at the processed foods that contain them.
How to get more health-building fats
First, you have my permission to ditch any foods in your cupboards that contain safflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, or any hydrogenated oil. Soybean oil alone accounts for over 75% of oils consumed by Americans, so it’s pretty popular in the “non-health food” department.
Second, try substituting one of the health-building oils whenever you have a recipe that calls for the other stuff. Try flax oil in your salad dressing, avocado and/or olive oil in your cooking, and coconut oil in your baking.
Third, make healthier versions of your go-to processed foods. I’ll help you out now with my super-simple mayonnaise recipe below. It’s way better for you than the unrefrigerated stuff you find at your grocery store.
Now tell me: What’s your favorite fat and why? Let me know in the comments below.
I love plant based fats and stay away from processed oils. Love the article.
Great! I’m glad you have enjoyed the article 😄
Beet fat because is so tasty! Hi
Did you mean beef?
I read labels but the fats still confuse me. A jar of peanut butter total 15g, 2.5g saturated, trans zero, where is the 12.5g from? it is assumed unsaturated? What does it all mean for the best health. If you have a fats class, sign me up.
The presence of saturated fat doesn’t automatically makes a food unhealthy. Olive oil, wheat germ, nuts and seeds — all “healthy” foods — have some saturated fat. It’s the whole package of nutrients, not just one or two, that determines how good a particular food is for health.
Peanut butter for example, One serving (about 2 tablespoons) has 3.3 grams of saturated fat and 12.3 grams of unsaturated fat, or about 80% unsaturated fat. That puts it up there with olive oil in terms of the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fat. Peanut butter also gives you some fiber, some vitamins and minerals and other nutrients. As long as you choose an unprocessed peanut butter that does not contain any sugar or hydrogenated fats, the amount of saturated fat is harmless due to the presence of unsaturated fats and other nutrients.