For years we have been demonizing fat due to false information and lack of credible research. Not onlyhas this information made us sicker, but it has also caused many of us to develop a subconscious fear of fat.
Fat is NOT to be feared and the right kinds of fats can actually make you healthier, protect your brain, and aid in longevity!
Before we get into the different types of fats, let’s take a quick look at a recent 10-year study that observed 135,000 adults from 18 different countries. This study found that those who cut back on fats had a shorter life span than those enjoying sufficient amounts of meat, butter, and cheese. The study concluded that “higher intake of fats, including saturated fats, are associated with lower risk of mortality.”
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s jump into the different types of fats and look at which ones you should focus on consuming versus those that should be avoided.
Fats can be divided into two main categories with a few different subcategories:
In general, you want to focus on consuming saturated and monounsaturated fats often, polyunsaturated fats cautiously, and avoid chemically processed trans-fat like the plague!
Yes, you read that correctly – consume saturated fats often! For years we have been taught that saturated fats are bad for our health and cause heart disease. As mentioned earlier, recent studieshave cleared up this myth and provided evidence that there is no significant link between saturated fats and cardiovascular disease.
One of the main differences between a healthy fat and an unhealthy fat is whether or not it can easily be oxidized or go rancid in the body leading to the creation of free radicals and increased inflammation – not good!
Saturated fats– such as butter, ghee, coconut oil, MCT oil, lard and other animal fats such as beef and bacon – are some of the most stable fats, meaning they are less likely to oxidize and cause increased inflammation in your body. It’s best to choose pasture-raised, organic sources of saturated fats when possible.
Monounsaturated fats– like avocados and avocado oil, olives and olive oil, nuts and seeds – are moderately stable fats that are best consumed in their whole food state. When buying avocado and olive oil, look for dark bottles that are labeled “expeller-pressed,” “cold-pressed,” or “centrifuge-extracted” to minimize the risk of oxidation.
Polyunsaturated fats—such as soybean, sunflower, safflower, canola, corn, and grapeseed oil—should be avoided as often as possible. These oils are highly processed and prone to oxidation, leading to increased inflammation in the body. Choose whole food sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats instead like sardines, salmon, walnuts, hemp seeds, and chia seeds.
Trans fats—like hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, margarine, and vegetable shortening—should be avoided at all costs. These chemically processed trans fats are extremely inflammatory and have been linked to several health issues.
Step away from the margarine and “heart-healthy” vegetable oils - they are NOT your friend!