Which Are Healthy And Which Are Not?
We’ve had it drilled into us all our lives that fat is a bad thing and something to be avoided. Popular advice from numerous sources, including many doctors, still claim that eating a low fat diet is the best way to be healthy. But is this really true?
The truth is that fat – especially saturated fat – has gotten an unfairly bad rap for a very long time now. The outdated and unsubstantiated advice that we should avoid it is in fact making people sicker!
If a minimal amount of your daily food intake is in the form of fat, that means most of it is coming from carbohydrates. This is a recipe for inflammation, insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, and a long list of other diseases. It’s inflammation and chronically high glucose and insulin levels that cause disease, not fat.
There are literally mountains of evidence these days to show that a diet high in the right fats is one of the best things you can do to optimize your health, and the evidence only continues to grow.
Not All Fats Are Created Equal
So what are the “right” fats? Which ones should we be including in our diet and which should make us run screaming in the other direction?
The Myths Surrounding Saturated Fats
For years now we’ve been told bad things about saturated fats. They are found in foods like red meat, eggs, grass-fed dairy and coconut oil. We’ve been told it will cause weight gain, clogged arteries and lead to a stroke or heart attack. We’re told that we should avoid them, because the cholesterol in them is bad for us.
The membrane of every cell in our bodies is made up of cholesterol, and in fact needs it to function correctly. Without it, our cells would die, because our body would be unable to repair them. We actually make about 3,000 mg of cholesterol every day; if we add more through our diet, our body makes less to maintain the correct level.
Our hormones are made up in part by cholesterol, and our bones require it in order to metabolize calcium. It’s also important for building a healthy immune system.
Fat (ketones) is the preferred fuel of our brain and organs, so getting enough through our diet is important. Only a tiny percentage of our bodily functions require any glucose, and our liver is capable of manufacturing whatever small amount we need. There is absolutely no need to add it through our diet in the form of carbohydrates.
Foods high in saturated fats also contain a lot of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for good health.
Because all of our cells are made up of fat and cholesterol, it’s wise to choose the highest quality fats we can to be healthy.
Many so-called “vegetable” oils are not made from vegetables at all, but rather from beans or seeds, some of which have been genetically modified. They are processed in a factory using high heat and extremely toxic chemicals. They turn rancid very quickly and cause oxidative damage to our cells. There is nothing “natural” or healthy about them at all.
The vast majority of processed foods you buy in the grocery store or in a restaurant contain these oils. They are inexpensive to manufacture, and so spell more profits for the big food companies. These companies spend millions of dollars in advertising every year to convince us that they are healthy, but nothing could be further from the truth.
If you have any of these in your pantry, I highly recommend getting RID of them immediately:
Canola oil (this is probably the worst one of all)
Rapeseed oil (used to make canola oil)
Soybean oil (genetically modified)
Safflower and sunflower oils (both are very high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which contribute to inflammation)
Products like Crisco, Wesson and the numerous margarine products on the market are all made up of these unhealthy hydrogenated, unsaturated fats. Please do yourself a huge favor and get them out of your pantry, and if you see them listed as an ingredient on the label of a food you are considering buying, drop it and run!
Instead, choose to use saturated oils and fats that come from natural sources and are extracted without the use of chemicals and extreme processing. Some of the very best choices are butter, ghee (clarified butter), bacon grease, lard, avocado oil, tallow (beef fat), sustainably-sourced palm oil and coconut oil.
Olive oil tends to oxidize quickly when heated, so unless you’re cooking at a very low temperature, it’s probably best to reserve this for cold uses, such as in a salad dressing. Mayonnaise can be a healthy fat as well if you choose varieties made from avocado or olive oil; avoid any made with soybean or canola oils, as most commercial brands are. Macadamia and walnut seed oils are also good choices.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids
Another fat we need plenty of in our diet is Omega-3. Some great sources are fatty fish (wild caught salmon, anchovies, sardines) and other seafood. Many foods also have Omega 6 fatty acids (which all of the unhealthy oils contain). Because it causes inflammation, it should be eaten in limited amounts. These two fats balance each other out, so the ideal ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 would be as close to 1:1 as possible. Unfortunately, with the standard western diet, people are getting anywhere from a 1:20 to a 1:50 ratio.
You Are What You Eat
The keto lifestyle is ideal for getting all the healthy fats we need because we are focused on eating whole, unprocessed foods. As with most things in life, you get out of it what you put in. If the building blocks we use in our bodies are weak, the whole structure will be too. Quality ingredients may cost a little more, but you’ll more than make up for it with savings in terms of avoiding poor health and suffering, medical bills and prescription expenses. You’ll experience a quality of life that is just not possible when we are eating an unhealthy diet.
Keto on, my friends, and have a wonderful week!