Mainstream advice about healthy fats is based on the lie that cholesterol and saturated fat are killers because they “clog the arteries” and cause heart disease. The truth is completely the opposite.
The “heart-healthy” processed vegetable oils and “whole grains” are the true killers. Saturated fat gets blamed because it is usually consumed in the context of a high carbohydrate diet. It’s the high carbohydrate intake which is harmful, not the saturated fat.
Our ancestors ate lots of natural, saturated fats, and our genetic makeup is designed to thrive on high fat, low carb diet:
The Weston Price Foundation notes that “the total fat content of traditional diet plans varies from 30% to 80% with only 4% of calories come from the polyunsaturated oils naturally occurring in grains, pulses, nuts, fish, animal fats and vegetables. The balance of fat calories is in the form of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.”
Learning to love natural fats such as butter and organic virgin coconut oil not only tastes good but can improve your health.
Here are some tips on choosing truly healthy fats:
- Let go of your fear of eating saturated fats, especially butter. These fats are beneficial to your health in many ways. Saturated fats supply cell membrane integrity, are needed for the absorption of calcium and other minerals, and they are essential for metabolizing fatty acids like EPA and DHA, which are incredibly beneficial to heart function and mood.
Saturated fats are anti-viral and anti-microbial. They support the immune system, protect the liver and contribute to strong bones. Saturated fats are the preferred food for the heart and brain, and as such should be on any list of healthy foods.
Consider this: before 1900, Americans ate mostly saturated fat from animal sources. Death from heart disease was rare. The first case wasn’t reported until 1912.
In the early 1900s, vegetable-based margarine, hydrogenated shortening, and corn oil were introduced, and people began switching to these for various reasons. As the consumption of butter and other saturated animal fats fell, the rates of heart disease went up.
- Avoid refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils, hydrogenated vegetable fats, and margarine. And most refined vegetable oils are made from genetically engineered organisms, which are implicated in a wide range of health issues. This would include refined soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, sunflower oil and the like. In addition, the hydrogenation of oils into shortening and margarine relies on toxic chemicals and high heat and results in the introduction of trans fat and an oxidized, unstable product. Oxidized oils introduce large amounts of free radicals into your body, which results in an increase in inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to all sorts of disease processes.
- Make a special effort to avoid oils that are rancid and any fat that has been hydrogenated. Hydrogenated fats contain trans fats, which are strongly associated with increased risks of cancer and heart disease.
- Use traditional vegetable oils instead: cold-pressed, organic virgin olive oil, cold-pressed sesame oil, small amounts of cold-pressed flaxseed oil, and clean tropical oils: virgin coconut oil, and organic palm kernel oil.
- Make sure your overall diet contains nearly equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in a variety of foods including meat, walnuts, cod liver oil and fatty fish like salmon and halibut. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in poultry, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. The modern diet contains much more Omega-6 oils because of the increased consumption of vegetable oils over animal fats. This imbalance toward Omega-6 has been implicated in raising rates of heart disease because of the inflammatory effects of vegetable oils.
- Consume a mixture of healthy fats. Sources of fat should include real, unprocessed foods like grass-fed meat, free-range fowl, organic eggs, butter, nuts, natural oils and saturated tropical fats like coconut oil.
- If you’ve been following a low-fat diet, ease into this change. Take a month or so to gradually add more healthy fats to your diet, while at the same time, reducing your carbohydrate intake. To feel good, and to keep my blood sugar and insulin levels stable and normal, I shoot for a 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbohydrate calorie distribution in my diet.
Learning to eat more natural healthy fats is a delicious and easy step toward better health. Enjoy!