Is there such a thing? The discussion on fat is one that continues to be talked about, and for good reason! Between old and new research, Internet search, friends and family it seems as though everyone has a different opinion and stance when it comes to good fat vs bad fat.
So which one is it?
Let’s start by stripping down fat to its most foundational level and discuss its degrees and roles.
Fat has three degrees:
- Highly stable, solid at room temperature, safe at high heat. Ex.: Coconut oil, butter
- Relatively stable, liquid at room temperature, safe at low heat. Ex.: Olive oil, almonds and avocado oils
- Relatively unstable, liquid at room temperature, do not use with heat or cooking. Ex.: Fish oils, flax and seeds
All fats have some combination of each.
The roles of fat:
- Fat is a macronutrient
- Fat provides a stable and long-burning energy source
- Fat is a building block for protein consumption and healthy hormone production
So then, foundationally, fat is actually good.
(Unfortunately, we can’t stop there)
Fat has many beneficial purposes. It’s something humans need to thrive. However, just as other modern-day foods, fats have fallen victim to refinement, hydrogenation and expelling. This is done to increase shelf life, increase smoke point, and increase taste - all of which help the manufacturer's bottom line. The process is incredibly harsh and equally unhealthy. It takes good, healthy and stable fat and breaks it down to an unstable and easily rancidable nutrient, leaving us with something damaged and a whole host of other health issues.
BAD FATS (fats to avoid)
- Hydrogenated fats
- Partially-hydrogenated fats
- Highly processed vegetable oils
- Fried Fats
- Trans Fats (these are the by-products of fats that have gone through a heavily refined and hydrogenated process. These are the fats that produce harmful free-radicals)
GOOD FATS (fats you should consume)
Fear not! There are the good guys of fat. These types should be consumed for optimal health. They’re foundationally beneficial and provide us with sustainable energy, are building blocks for healthy hormones, protect our organs and make food taste good!
Good quality fatty acids to add to your daily diet:
- Omega-3: Fish oil, flax seed, walnuts
- Omega-6: Sesame and sunflower seeds and oil
- Omega-9: Extra virgin olive oil
- Saturated fats: Coconut oil, butter, pastured animal fats
The bottom line
Although the answer isn’t always simple, you shouldn’t be afraid of eating fat. Good quality fat is essential for your optimal health. Being mindful of the fat(s) you’re eating is just as important – stay clear of those highly refined and fried fats and focus on eating whole-food sources like fish, coconut, organic nuts and seeds, healthy oils and butter. These will provide you with the healthful benefits and aid in your overall wellness!
Article by: Katie Merritt, NTC | thewellu.com