Since I first posted this in 2013, we’ve had access to even more research, especially about saturated fats, and the news is good: they help decrease heart disease and they truly help inflammation. I updated this in ’17, ’19 and now for 2022. This is the post where I get into the most research. You can also click on shorter posts at the bottom of this page.
Here is the latest:
You need fats. Do NOT try and lose weight by turning to low fat options. Guess what they trade for fat so that the product tastes ok? SUGAR = CARBS. The trade off is that you’re hungry in an hour! Why? Your insulin just spiked.
How many times have you eaten a meal only to feel hungry in an hour or two? Fat gives us satiety, the feeling of “I’ve had enough to eat”. So, fat is your FRIEND, especially if you want to lose weight and lower your inflammatory load. Here’s simple guidelines for fat consumption.
List of “Good” Fats:
Vary where they come from, add them to your meals, and find you’ll stay full longer. Use a variety of these:
- Cold Pressed, unrefined Olive oil (NOT for high temperature cooking)
- Grass Fed, pasture raised Ghee, which is clarified butter from milk from grass fed cows, which is their normal diet (this butter has high amounts of healty Omega 3’s, unlike our “regular” butter). The milk solids are removed, so even if you react to dairy, you may not have a problem with ghee. Be sure it says pasture raised, grass fed on the label.
- Coconut oil (yes, it’s saturated, but healthy despite that, see references below) Refined coconut oil is one of the BEST cooking oils, and it doesn’t have a huge “coconuty” flavor, but it is one of the best oils for handling higher heats. I use almost nothing but olive, avocado, coconut and walnut oils (walnut for salad dressing) in my food prep. This group of oils include the now popular MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) oil, now being used to treat cognitive decline and neuro-degenerative conditions like Parkinsons and MS.
- Sesame, flax and pumpkin seed oil in small amounts
- Cold water fish: (sardines, salmon, tuna, sardines, trout, crab, cod, anchovies)
- Eggs (yes, eat the yolk!! they do NOT raise cholesterol!)
- Nuts (walnuts, almonds, almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
- Almond butter, cashew butter
- Whole Seeds: Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, pine nuts
- An important point regarding essential vitamins: Did you know you don’t absorb certain vitamins without fat? Vitamins A, D, E and K are considered “fat soluble” and are absorbed MUCH better when paired with fat. Many have fat in their capsules but you can help absorption by eating fat with them or taking with a meal. (Take Vitamin D in morning only.)
You might think, yikes! Those oils are saturated! I don’t want heart disease! Well, research is proving that the myth of saturated fats was WRONG. See here for 5 studies.
There are also many questions about “is beef ok?”. Yes, IF you choose grass-fed (and locally raised with organic pasture if possible). See my post on grass fed beef here.
Why Not Vegetable Oil? Wasn’t that GOOD for you?
Increased consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils, (canola, corn, vegetable, soybean, cottonseed, see chart below) which are highly inflammatory to the body and unstable, have subsequently increased inflammatory diseases. Over-consuming omega-6 fats and under-consuming omega-3 fats increases numerous health issues including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, pre-diabetes, IBS, arthritis, asthma, cancer and autoimmune diseases. Omega 6 are necessary, but our shift to thinking vegetable oils are healthy created an imbalance that fueled our body’s inflammatory pathways and counteracted the benefits and availability of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, creating even more inflammation.
We need to eliminate these highly processed vegetable oils that are so prevalent in the standard American diet. Instead, I suggest using the oils listed below which are more plant-based and animal-stable fats. Note the “Never Ever” at the bottom.
Further Reading, Links updated 2022:
Saturated Fat Probably Good for You
Institute for Functional Medicine Guide to Fats (printable)
A List of High Fat Foods and Why they are good for You
Great Books by Mark Hyman, MD:
- Eat Fat, Get Thin (2017)
- Food, What the Heck Should I Eat?
- Food, What the Heck Should I Cook? (2020)
- Food Fix (2019)
- The Pegan Diet 2021
Watch Mark Hyman’s talk at TEDxChicago:
“What you do with your fork impacts EVERYTHING”
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