Since the industrial revolution, the rhetoric on healthy and unhealthy fats has run the gamut. Corn, canola, soy, vegetable oil and even butter have been in the hot seat for years – though the latter more.
The result is utter confusion for people whose desire is to give their body food that serves them well.
One person thinks canola is heart-healthy because it says it on the bottle and the American Heart Association backs it. They say it’s better because it contains “less saturated fats.”
Another person thinks that soy oil must be safe because it’s in so many food products. Certainly, manufacturers and the FDA wouldn’t allow ingredients in the food that harm human cells?
Others fear fat and eat no fat at all. Low-fat diets were the craze for a while but people still follow them thinking fat is unhealthy. They think saturated fat will kill them or give them cardiovascular disease or high cholesterol. What the fat-free dieters don’t realize is that they are harming their gallbladder since bile salts are made from cholesterol. Abstaining from fat often leads to gallstones and potentially loss of the gallbladder as well as many vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
What the Research on Fat Says
According to Nina Teicholz who wrote the book The Big Fat Surprise (which I highly recommend reading),
“Almost nothing that we commonly believe today about fats generally and saturated fat in particular appears, upon close examination to be accurate.” (p. 2)
Through her deep-dive research into all of the actual scientific data done over many years, she uncovered skewed results reported, hidden agendas (protecting profit and companies) and contradictory evidence pushed aside to support the fat is bad dogma.
“What I found, incredibly, was not only that it was a mistake to restrict fat but also that our fear of the saturated fats in animal foods – butter, eggs, and meat – has never been based on solid science. (p. 2)
With that, I’d like to recommend you read her book to dig into the science discoveries she made so you can put your fat dogma to the side. Right now, come along with me now to learn the difference between fat that is serving your body and truly reducing inflammation and fat that is causing inflammation, disease and even death.
Are you with me?
Let’s dig in!
The Role of Fat in Your Body
Please note – below I am referring to the role that high-quality, healthy fat plays in your body. Inflammatory fat, which I will talk about in a bit, will actually block these roles.
- All of your trillions of cell membranes are made of fat. Fat is the building block for these membranes.
- Fat is critical in hormone formation
- It helps to aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K
- Protein is properly assimilated in the presence of fat
- Fat creates a protective lining for the organs of the body
- It provides a slow-burning source of energy – think of it as the logs on a fire (an analogy I learned in school!)
- The presence of good fat helps to regulate and slow the absorption of food
- Plays a vital role in the health of our bones
- Lowers Lp(a)
- It increases satiety. When you have adequate fat in your diet you won’t be hungry after a meal
- Best of all – it makes food taste good! I don’t know about you but I can’t imagine my eggs in the morning not cooked in pastured bacon fat or my pie crusts without pastured lard. I enjoy a dollop of ghee (clarified butter) on my sweet potatoes and extra virgin olive oil drizzled over my greens.
One side note I wanted to mention is that if you aren’t digesting the fat you’re eating, you will be malnourished, fatigued, have nausea, get headaches, have dry skin and a whole host of other symptoms. To learn all about digestion, leaky gut and how to properly digest your fats, be sure to take my Gut Renew Course by signing up below.
Different Types of Fat
There are lots of different types of fat.
Here’s a simple list:
Saturated – a type of fat that is conjugated down into prostaglandin 2 which helps to regulate inflammation in the body. It’s a highly stable form of fat and fine to use with heat.
Monounsaturated – anti-inflammatory fats that are liquid at room temperature. They are a bit less stable (easier to go rancid- ie. contains damaged molecules) than saturated fat – not recommended to use with heat.
Polyunsaturated – anti-inflammatory fats that are liquid at room temperature and, when not refrigerated, are easily damaged. They can go rancid the quickest. However, these fats are essential to our bodies because our bodies can’t make them. These are not recommended to be used with heat ever.
Trans Fats – rarely found in nature. Artificial trans fats are created when one hydrogen atom is added to make a liquid oil more solid. They are damaged upon creation and inflammatory to the body raising LDL levels and increasing cardiovascular risk. They also make your cells less resistant to bacteria and viruses
Interestingly, according to Sally Fallon,
“the omega-3 fatty acids of processed canola oil are transformed into trans fatty acids!”
Hydrogenated Fat – is normally liquid at room temperature but processed with nickel oxide, soap-like emulsifiers and starch and then de-odorized because the final product has a stench. For instance – margarine is naturally gray but that color is removed with bleach and then dye is used for a palatable color. #frankenfood.
*Note – the process of hydrogenation creates trans fats.
A Common Sense Question for You
Why don’t we just use what God gave us in nature for fat?
Butter is naturally solid and not a liquid at room temperature and so is beef tallow, lard and coconut oil. Why do we need to create solid fat when it’s already here on earth for us to use?
God knew what he was doing when He created us and this world. Why would man need to come in a take away what God created (essentially making butter, lard and tallow the enemy) and then create fat in a lab and call it healthy?
It makes no sense to me. I always stick with God-made.
Where Trans Fats and Hydrogenated Fats Hide
- Canola Oil (you’ve got to watch how it’s made – note they say it’s healthy but after you watch the video I would encourage you to use your critical thinking skills and ask yourself if that really is healthy after what it goes through)
- Vegetable Oil
- Brominated vegetable oils (used in soft drinks)
- Soy oil (“Americans now eat over a thousand times more soybean oil than they did in 1909.” Teicholz, 231)
- Other alternative butter
- Processed foods
- Restaurant food
- Fried food that’s fried in damaged oil (sometimes up to 46% trans fat!)
- Bakery Items
Hydrogenated Oils and Trans Fatty Acids Become Mainstream
Remember how I mentioned the FDA at the beginning of this article?
“It took ninety years after hydrogenated oils were introduced for these trans fats to be recognized by the FDA as questionable for human health.” (Teicholz, pg 225.)
Nina Teicholz mentions that “hydrogenated oils…. grew to be a sizeable 8% of all calories consumes by Americans in the late 1980s.” (226.)
Why did these fats become so mainstream?
The answer is because they were cheaper than butter or lard and highly versatile. They could be tailored to many different food ‘products’.
Further, in 1984 there was a huge media campaign launched attacking saturated fat. At that point, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) “encouraged fast food companies such as Burger King and McDonald’s to abandon beef tallow for partially hydrogenated soybean oil in their french fry operations. Similarly, CSPI convinced movie theaters across America to switch from butter and coconut oil to partially hydrogenated oils in their popcorn poppers. (Teicholz, 228)
Essential Fats for Your Body
Saturated, Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated fats are all essential for your body in maintaining proper inflammation and for being the building blocks for cell, cognitive, mood health as well as weight management and neurological function. Please keep them in your diet.
If you want to know what these fats are and how to get them into your diet, get your FRIENDLY FAT Cheat Sheet? Below.
Fat Conversion in Your Body
Once consumed, polyunsaturated, saturated and monounsaturated fats get converted in various forms of essential fatty acids (EFA’s) and eventually something called a prostaglandin which are hormone-like substances that your body can’t do without.
Omega 3’s, 6’s and 9’s in saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are all conjugated down to prostaglandins which are beautiful modulators for inflammation in the body as well as ultra-nourishing to the brain and cells.
Conversely, Trans Fat and Hydrogenated Fat actually block fatty acids from being absorbed and contribute to essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiency.
This results in sexual dysfunction, increased cholesterol, immune compromise and according to Mary Enig,
“consumption of hydrogenated fats is associated with a host of other serious diseases, not only cancer but atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity, immune system dysfunction, low birth weight babies, birth defects decreased visual acuity, sterility, difficulty with lactation and problems with bones and tendons.
That’s why it’s really important to steer clear of trans and hydrogenated fats.
The Following Interferes with Your Absorption of Fats
- The use of NSAIDS
- Trans fats
- Hydrogenated Oils
- Liver congestion
- Low vitamin B levels
- Low magnesium and zinc levels
- Lack of protein in the diet
- Poor digestion
Which Fats Are Healthy for Your Body
It’s safe to say that saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are healthy choices.
It’s important to consider:
- how it was extracted
- how it is stored (in a dark bottle for the fragile fats)
- is it created by man (if so then I steer clear)
- is it GMO (corn, canola, cottonseed, vegetable and soy oils are GMO so I steer clear of those).
My personal choices of fats for years now are pastured, grass-fed animal fats from healthy animals, organic expeller-pressed plant, nut and seed oils that don’t use chemicals for extraction.
To learn the exact fats that are healthy and necessary for your body and where to get them, get your Friendly Fat Cheat Sheet here.