Eat more fat. Period. Fat is necessary.
But which fat?
This article has two parts. Part I is about getting your fats straight. I give you four groups of fats and at the end, I list 4 simple guidelines to help you make some changes.
Part II is about why and how we got so brainwashed about fats. How did we get it so wrong and what can we learn from the French.
Part I: Which fats to eat more of?
Especially as the winter advances, your body will benefit from additional fat... of the GOOD kind. And before you think that the good kind of fat means more vegetable oil and less butter and saturated fat, think again.
Today I want to share a simple guide on fats that I have long used with my clients. I created it from Dr. Udo Erasmus' book, Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill.
Dr. Erasmus, as a biochemist and PhD in nutrition, is one of the top authorities on the healthfulness of fats. He has been one of the leading scientists setting the record straight on which fats are TRULY good; which fats are terrible and should never be eaten; and which fats you've ben led to think are healthy, but really are not.
#1. Fats that heal:
Primarily, omega-3 fatty acids:
- Fish and fish oil - from WILD CAUGHT fish. Farmed fish has zero omega-3 fats.
- Small fish (like sardines and anchovies) are the best options because of low toxicity
- Highest sources of omega-3 oils: mackerel, herring, salmon (wild-caught), tuna sardines and anchovies.
- Seaweed, algae and their oils
- Flaxseed, hemp seeds, chia seeds and their oils
#2. Fats that are healthy with a caveat:
Unrefined, expeller-pressed vegetable oils:
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
Even though omega-6 fatty acids are essential, the ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should be around 1:1. In other words, for every gram of omega-6 oil, we should have one gram of omega-3 oil. But the majority of Americans are getting 20:1 or even 50:1. As a population we eat WAY too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3!
Omega-6 fatty acids have pro-inflammatory properties (which are essential for healing), but they need to be balanced by the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids.
These oils (above) have modest levels of omega-6 fats. Also, being unrefined means they have not been subjected to high heat.
The oils that are most common in the American diet (sunflower, soy, corn, cottonseed and peanut oils) are extremely high in omega-6, helping to drive the huge imbalance in fatty-acids. This imbalance is one of the root causes behind the high incidence of inflammation-related health issues: heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, IBS, autoimmune conditions and even some cancers.
#3. Unhealthy fats to avoid:
High Omega-6, rancid, refined oils:
Not only are these oils very high in omega-6, they're also often extracted through the use of chemical solvents; then they are deodorized and finally refined at extremely high heats to remove the solvents. This high-heat and chemical processing renders them rancid (and also unhealthful.) They are best avoided as much as possible.
Farm-raised fish and CAFO-raised cattle:
- Farm-raised fish (tilapia, salmon, etc.) are not fed their natural diet and therefore do not have the omega-3 fatty acids that travel up the natural food chain. Stop ordering the salmon thinking you're making a healthy choice. Have grass-fed beef instead.
- Conventional Animal Feeding Operation cattle also does not eat the natural diet that cows should eat. Their fat composition is therefore altered. Grass-fed beef contains higher levels of omega-3 fats than their CAFO-fed counterparts, which have none.
#4. Fats that kill:
- Hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils
- Shortening and old-school margarine
These fats are created by humans. They do not exists in nature and they do not decompose. The body cannot assimilate them and they behave more like plastic than food.
Foods cooked in hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils (such as Twinkies, fast food, and supermarket donuts) never decompose or go rancid. Yikes!
How to use the lists above?
- Add 1-2 sources of the foods in #1 EVERY DAY
- Substitute your oils in #3 with the oils listed in #2.
- Only eat foods cooked in the oils in #3 when you go eat out at restaurants. They are unavoidable there.
- Never eat anything with the oils in #4.