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The Skinny on Fats

The Skinny on Fats

by Laura J Hieb, ND on December 7, 2021

So in my last blog, we explored the concept that all calories are not the same, which debunks the low/no-fat diet theory many of us grew up with.

But why is eating fat good for us?
What do dietary fats do for us?

Fats make up most of the brain, the cell membranes of all our cells, are a great source of energy, they make food taste good, help us to get more nutrients out of foods, help us  feel full and  even help with weight loss.

As with so many things, it matters which types of fat we are eating. There are good fats and bad fats.

Good fats include:
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Avocados and avocado oil
  • Coconut and coconut oil
  • Palm oil--but most of it is unsustainably grown so there are ethical reasons about consuming it
  • Grass fed and grass finished/pastured butter, ghee and lard
  • Raw nuts and seeds and  (unsweetened) nut and seed butters
  • Fish oil and flax seed oil--do NOT heat or cook with these

Bad fats include:

  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Vegetable oils
  • Canola oil--even if it is organic
  • Cotton seed oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower seed oil

Worst fats: trans fats, which come from hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Avoid these fats, which are commonly found in commercial baked goods, even if the product states it is "trans fat-free". If something contains hydrogenated or partially hydrognated oils, it contains trans fats. Period.

Why does it matter which fats we eat? Because, as mentioned above, fats compose all of our cell membranes. Trans fats are the worst because they weaken our cell membranes.

The other bad fats are bad for a variety of reasons:

  • they are non traditional foods so our bodies don't know how to metabolize them
  • they are highly unstable, even at room temperature, so they become easily oxidized, which increases free radicals. Free radicals increase the risk for heart disease, inflammatory diseases, cataracts and cancer, to name a few
  • they have been heavily pesticided and/or genetically modified. Oils from plants that have been treated with pesticides (and plants can be genetically modified to withstand large amounts of pesticides and herbicides) increase our toxic burden, since most of these toxins end up concentrated in fats since they are largely fat-soluble.

To be continued.....