Dietary fats are essential for good health. However, some fats can be extremely unhealthy. When adding additional fats into your diet, it is important to distinguish between healing fats and killer fats. Healing fats are nutritious fats. They are anti-inflammatory and provide the body with energy and building blocks for various tissues.
Killer fats are highly inflammatory and can contribute to a wide range of health problems. Learning which fats to avoid and which healthy fats to include in your diet may be one of the most important dietary strategies you implement into your life.
Fat came under scrutiny in the 1960s when the sugar industry paid Harvard researchers to publish a review on sugar, fat, and heart disease. The sugar industry funded the research to cover up warning signs, which emerged in the 1950s, that sugar caused heart disease. Shifting the blame away from sugar, the researchers singled out saturated fat as the cause of heart disease.
In the decades following, the media, public health authorities, and the food industry promoted the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. This misleading nutrition advice was touted as the healthiest diet to prevent heart disease.
Food manufacturers flooded the market with processed foods containing hydrogenated fats and processed sugar. The replacement of saturated fats in the diet with trans fats and sugar resulted in epidemic rates of obesity and its related health complications. Rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancer have risen since Americans adopted the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet.
In fact, it could be argued that the sugar industry’s bid to protect profits has had a more detrimental impact on American lives than anything else in our history, including the combined casualty of all wars, car accidents, and perhaps even smoking depending on the metrics used.
That being said, there are some dangers in certain kinds of fats. But all you have to do is learn the difference.
Fats that heal can be found in many sources. Healing non-animal fats are in avocados and avocado oil, nuts and nut butters, coconut, coconut
milk, and coconut oil, and olives and olive oil.
Healing animal fats are found in grass-fed butter, ghee, and dairy, grass-fed meats, organic, pastured chicken and egg yolks.
Incorporating healing fats into your diet has many health benefits. Healing fats provide building blocks for cell membranes and hormones. They also function as carriers for important fat-soluble
vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K and aid in the absorption of minerals. Healing fats are essential for a healthy body and lifestyle. See the “which to eat” chart for more detail.
The most common sources of unhealthy fats are man-made saturated fats and highly processed unsaturated fats. Man-made saturated fats, including trans fats, are extremely harmful. Unsaturated processed oils, such as vegetable oil, canola oil and corn oil, oxidize easily and are never healthy.
Ironically, these are the types of fats that are often in processed foods, like margarine, and marketed as heart-healthy alternatives. These fats are not only highly inflammatory, but also offer zero benefits to the human body. On top of that, they come from factory farms that are extremely detrimental to the environment.
Note that over 90% of restaurants cook with unsaturated, oxidized oils. The best way to avoid these oils is to cook fresh food at home using the suggestions above. If you are going out for dinner, be sure to ask your server what type of oil they use to cook. You can ask for steamed vegetables and melt butter or drizzle olive oil over them to maximize nutrient absorption and provide delicious flavor.
Stay away from pre-made dressings and sauces which usually contain oxidized oils and added sugar. Avoid deep-fried foods such as French fries and fried chicken. Oils with trans fats are usually used in the cooking process because they do not have to be changed as often. See the “Which to ditch” chart for more details.
Don’t be intimidated by this distinction. It becomes relatively easy to tell the difference once you turn your attention to it, and you’ll be unconsciously avoiding bad fats in no time.