Fats are one of the most misunderstood food topics in the health world today. People are constantly confused and getting mixed information on whether fat is good for you, how much to consume, and which fats are heat stable and good to cook with.
For decades flawed research and corruption took healthy saturated fats off the menu and replaced them with hydrogenated oils (toxic trans fats) and also led people to believe fats should be avoided.
In reality, healthy fats and oils are necessary for good health and are an essential part of our diets.
Although, it’s important to keep in mind that not all fats are created equal.
I am going to cover what you need to know about fats to improve your health and quality of life.
** This article focuses on actual fats and oils more so than healthy high-fat foods such as egg yolks, dark chocolate, nuts, and wild-caught fish.
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Healthy Fats do NOT Make You Fat!
Americans were greatly mislead to think that consuming dietary fats result in increased body fat. This is far from the truth.
That would be like saying that eating blueberries makes you turn blue.
Our bodies are comprised of complex metabolic pathways that are much more complicated than that.
Consuming the right types of fat is very important to help you lose weight.
The truth is our bodies require healthy fats and oils to fuel your brain, balance your hormones, perform your best, maintain a healthy weight, and so much more!
So why was everyone told to reduce fat consumption?
Why Americans Were Mislead With Nutrition Advice
Millions of Americans were told that eating saturated fat would cause heart disease, weight gain, and increase their chances of an early death.
This false claim was due to corruption by the sugar industry who paid scientists to say that heart disease was caused by saturated fat, not sugar. (1)
This unethical advice caused countless people to adopt a low-fat, high-carb diet and as a result obesity rates and chronic diseases skyrocketed. (2)
The research did not actually link high-fat intake with heart disease.
Many well-done studies have disproven this myth and shown that saturated fat does NOT increase a person’s risk for heart disease. (3)
Eating higher fat intake and decreasing carbohydrate consumption has been shown to help with weight loss and improving cholesterol levels. (4)
“higher fat intake and decreasing carbohydrate consumption has been shown to help with weight loss and improving cholesterol levels.
Types of Fat
There are 4 main types of dietary fats:
- Saturated Fats
- Monounsaturated Fats
- Polyunsaturated Fats
- Trans Fats
Health Benefits of Healthy Fats and Oils
1. Proper Hormone Balance
Fats make sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen in the body. Not getting enough adequate fats can cause disruption in your hormones leading to low testosterone levels in men, and poor estrogen balance in women. When fats are too restricted, women can even experience amenorrhea (abnormal absence of period) (5)
Fats are also responsible for the hormone leptin, which signals your brain to tell you to stop eating when you are full. Lack of leptin can lead to overeating and weight gain.
2. Enhances Nutrient Absorption
Certain fats work synergistically with various micronutrients to improve the bodies ability to absorb them.
One example of this is olive oil increasing the bioavailability of lycopene, a nutrient found in tomatoes and other plant foods. (6)
Fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K require fats to be properly absorbed and used by the body.
Researchers also found that when adding fats to your salad you absorb more of the nutrients in the vegetables. (7)
3. Makes up Your Cell Membranes
Fats surround all of the cells in your body. When you under consume the right types of healthy fats, and over consume the wrong kinds of fats, your cell membranes are then composed of toxic fats.
This causes chronic inflammation on the cellular level which causes all sorts of health issues.
4. Helps With Weight Loss
Eating enough of the right types of fats in conjunction with a diet low in starches and sugars results in better insulin sensitivity.
This means that your pancreas has to produce less insulin to keep your blood sugar level, and less insulin means less weight gain since insulin is our bodies #1 fat storage hormone.
Healthy fats also keep you fuller for longer which means less meal frequency. That makes intermittent fasting even easier to do which can be an amazing strategy for many folks.
5. Improves Brain Function
Your brain requires healthy fats to function optimally. It is made of about 60% fat! (8)
Healthy fats, especially saturated fats, are very important for your brain to grow, develop, operate at a high level.
Adequate consumption of healthy fats has also been shown to help improve skin health.
These are just a few of the many benefits of eating healthy fats.
List of Healthy Fats and Oils
Since some fats can be problematic to your health, it’s important to know the best ones to consume and how to use them.
The first 5 fats on this list are the most heat stable options to use for cooking.
The remaining 5 are still very healthy, but you should avoid exposing them to high temperatures as they can become damaged (oxidized) which make them inflammatory to the body.
Healthy Heat-Stable Fats That Are Good for Cooking
1. Grass-fed Butter
Due to the flawed research and corruption, many Americans were told to stop eating butter and replace it with a toxic trans fat called margarine (which no one should eat!)
Luckily for us, the science supports what our ancestors have known for centuries. Grass-fed butter coming from a healthy cow is incredibly healthy to eat.
Grass-fed butter contains many beneficial nutrients such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), butyric acid, vitamin K, and omega-3 fatty acids just to name a few.
Butter has a smoke point of about 350 degrees F, making it a good choice for low and medium heat cooking.
2. Grass-fed Ghee
Ghee is clarified butter where they remove the milk solids. This makes it great for folks who are sensitive to dairy products.
It contains all the same great nutrients as butter, but it is even more heat stable
It’s best to cook your food at 350 F or below to minimize the damage to nutrients, but when doing higher heat cooking, grass-fed ghee is the best fat to use.
It has a smoke point of around 485 degree F making it incredibly stable.
As an added bonus, it tastes delicious!
Phit Tip: Ancient Organics is by far the best tasting, high quality ghee we have found.
3. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has been attacked on and off with some people making claims that it is not good for you because it has such a high saturated fat content. Well as I mentioned previously, saturated fats are actually healthy for our bodies. (9)
It also contains medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) which are excellent for energy and brain function.
Coconut oil is good to cook with, having a smoke point of 350 degrees F.
Phit Tip: In addition to cooking, there are also many other ways to use coconut oil such as on your skin or hair.
4. Grass-Fed Animal Fats (Beef tallow, Duck Fat, Lard, etc.)
Animal fats have been vilified for the same reason of all saturated fats, but the science confirms that properly raised animal fats are very good for you.
Naturally existing animal fat is a delicious, satiating, healthy fat to consume.
One major caveat is that your animal fats (and any animal protein for that matter) must be coming from a properly raised healthy animal.
Confined animal feedlot operations (CAFO) products are both terrible for the environment and terrible for us.
100% grass-fed, organic and properly raised animal products are great for the environment and very health for us.
When an animal is healthy and being raised the way mother nature intended, then it is overall very beneficial.
Grass-fed beef tallow – 420 degrees FFatworks Pastured Lard & Tallow Combo Pack – 14 oz Each
Duck Fat – 375 degrees F
Lard – 370 degrees F
5. Palm Fruit Oil
The main controversy with palm fruit oil is that many companies are harvesting palm fruit in a destructive, unsustainable manor. Also, many products are highly processed which can create problems.
If you are sourcing palm fruit oil that is unrefined and sustainable harvested, it can be a healthy fat to incorporate into your diet.
It is a heat stable option for cooking with a smoke point of 450 degrees F.
Healthy Fats (Not Heat Stable)
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
No surprise here. Olive oil has been on the top of the list for healthy oils for a long time due to its long list of impressive health benefits.
One study showed that olive oil reduces your chances of dying from heart disease, likely due to its antioxidants and monounsaturated fats. (13)
Sadly, many EVOO sold in the stores are diluted with toxic vegetable oils as a means to make more profits. It causes a dilemma and makes it difficult for people to know if they are actually getting real, high-quality EVOO.
Large scale testing has shown that approximately 70% of the olive oil sold in the United States are not actually olive oil!
Check out www.extravirginity.com to learn more about this issue and find out how you can find good pure extra virgin olive oil.
Despite popular belief, olive oil is not a good cooking oil for high temperatures. It is fantastic to put on salads or apply to food after its finished cooking.
2. Avocado Oil
Avocados are likely one of the healthiest fruits. They are an excellent source of potassium, antioxidants, fiber, monounsaturated fats, and the list goes on.
That’s why it makes sense that avocado oil is a great fat to incorporate into your diet.
Due to my love and large consumption of avocados, I don’t personally consume much avocado oil, but it is in fact a very healthy oil when coming from a good, high-quality source.
Since avocado oil has such a high smoke point, many people recommend using it for high heat cooking. I do not agree since it is unsaturated and therefore not as heat stable as saturated fats. Although, it is more heat stable than other unsaturated oils so can be an ok option if you are unable to cook with one of the saturated fats listed in the above section.
3. Fish Oil
Americans in general consume far too many omega-6 fats, and not nearly enough omega-3 fats.
It’s not that omega-6 fats are all bad, or omega-3’s are better.
The key to optimizing your omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is balance.
Most experts believe that an ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is somewhere around 4:1 or less, with some folks stating that a ratio of 2:1 or even 1:1 would be ideal.
The standard American eats a ratio between 12:1 to 25:1! Clearly people are over consuming omega-6 fats while skipping out on their omega 3’s!
Multiple studies have demonstrated this imbalance in omega-6 to omega-3 ratios and explained the potential problems associated with it. (14)
Fish oil is one of the best sources of omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA)
One of my favorite sources is cod liver oil since it also is a great source of bioavailable vitamin A (retinol)
Consuming wild-caught fatty fish is also an excellent way to get your fish oil intake but be sure to stick to low mercury options such as salmon, sardines, and anchovies.
Phit tip: Supplementing with omega-3 fats is a great option for many who don’t eat wild caught fish regularly.
4. Walnut oil
Walnuts have a great balance of omega-3’s, omega-6’s, and omega 9s.
This oil has numerous health benefits (15)
including decreasing inflammation, lowering your risk for heart disease, and improving your skin.La Tourangelle Roasted Walnut Oil
It tastes delicious and can be used to make healthy salad dressings, and even healthy mayo!
5. Macadamia Nut Oil
Like avocado, I don’t consume much macadamia nut oil since I love macadamia nuts and eat them regularly.
It is high in monounsaturated fats and other nutrients which make it a great options to add to various dishes. Since it has a mild, nutty flavor it works well in homemade salad dressings.
There are a few other oils that can be part of a healthy diet if you are getting them from a high-quality source and they are being pressed correctly, such as sesame seed oil and flaxseed oil.
As you can see, healthy fats are essential for our bodies and should not be feared.
Eating the wrong types of unhealthy fats can be extremely damaging to our health.
In fact, I would say unhealthy fats are even worse for our bodies than sugar!
Check out our article on Harmful Fats and Oils to Avoid to find out more.
Read Next: Is Eating Peanut Butter Good or Bad for you