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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly When It Comes to Fat
By Dr. Renae Norton

Fats can be very confusing. In fact, most people are completely confused when it comes to fat, both the good and bad fats, as well as what causes us to store body fat. In this article we are going to provide the most comprehensive fats chart available and explain why we get fat.  It is all the information you will ever need in order to understand which fats are good which fats are bad and which ones make you fat. I call it: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY☺. 

But before we do that, let’s put to rest the other myth about fat, and that is that fat is fattening. Fat is not fattening. In other words, eating fat does not cause us to store body fat. Sugar, or foods that are high in the types of carbohydrates that raise blood sugar levels, are what cause us to store fat. 

 

Put another way, you cannot store fat without raising your blood glucose (sugar) levels, and you cannot raise your blood glucose levels by eating fat.  So when you eat rice, bread, or any other food high in carbohydrates, aka foods that have a high glycemic index,  that is when you have to worry about weight gain, not when you eat healthy fats. 

 

Glycemic Index of Prunes

Read my article explaining glycemic index and glycemic load.  I also provide a list of healthy foods with a low GI/GL

 

Here’s what happens when you eat foods high in sugar or high in carbohydrates:

  1. The sugar in food is absorbed into the blood as glucose.
  2. The pancreas secretes insulin in reaction to the increase in blood glucose levels going up.
  3. With the help of the insulin, the glucose is then absorbed into the liver, muscle, and adipose (fat) tissue.
  4. This allows the blood sugar level to go back down. 

No problem, right? Hold on.  This only works as long as you do not eat too much sugar or too many foods that are high in carbs, as they raise blood glucose levels too much. When an excess of glucose (sugar and carbs) is ingested on a regular basis, too much insulin is secreted. Eventually it results in a condition called insulin resistance, which means that the cells in your muscles, fat, and liver no longer respond well to insulin and therefore can’t use the glucose from your blood for energy.  Instead, it stores the glucose as fat which accumulates over time and eventually we get fat. This puts us at risk for type 2 diabetes. Notice, nowhere in this scenario is eating fat the problem.

The bottom line is do not eat foods with a high glycemic load and/or do not eat so much carbohydrate at one time that you raise your blood sugar levels more than necessary. 

Now let’s take a look at fats, which ones we should eat and which ones we should avoid. The following chart, which has become very popular online if you search on fats, has all the information you need in one place.

good fats for cooking

In the chart above, I have categorized fats according to their source, composition, Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio, smoke point and wellness properties. I have also broken them down into healthy versus unhealthy and finally, for the healthy fats, for cold uses versus hot uses.

Source

In terms of source, raw 100% grass-fed butter from a cow that is not fed GMOs or pesticides, is the best fat there is.  It is the closest thing we have to human breast milk,  which is something that can sustain life on it’s own. 

Next is unrefined coconut oil. It is a great tenderizer so it’s great for frying meat. Not so great for frying fish as it breaks down other fats and since fish is almost all fat, it turns fish into mush. (So use butter to fry fish.) Another great thing about coconut oil breaking down fat is that it gets rid of cellulite. Seriously.

Most importantly, coconut oil does not store in the body as fat but goes straight to the liver and is used as energy. When it comes to fat, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Composition

The chart also tells us how much monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) and saturated fatty acid (SFA) we have in each type of fat. Notice that all 4 of the fats used for cooking are high in saturated fat. Saturated fat has gotten a bad rap.  Refined saturated fats are very bad for you whereas unrefined are the opposite and the healthiest fats we have.  Notice that the dangerous fats at the bottom of the chart in the “no go” zone are far less saturated. If you remember nothing else, remember that saturated fats are better for cooking.

Omega 6 to Omega 3 Ratio

The ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fat is from 1:1 to 4:1. Unfortunately most Americans have a ratio closer to between 15:1 and as high as 17:1 resulting in inflammation and life-threatening chronic diseases. This is because they eat foods high in omega 6 fats like conventional beef, cheese on their pizzas, ice cream, or processed foods that are loaded with safflower and sunflower refined (cooked) oils.

I am proud to say that my ratio is usually 1:1 and sometimes even 1:2 which means I eat more omega 3 than 6. (This drives my doctor nuts for some reason. Jealous much?) Notice the fish oil in the chart above?  It has a ratio of 1:20. That’s how you improve your ratio, eat more fish. I am not a fish lover.  I used to hate salmon, but I eat it once a week and have learned to make it taste good (I put cinnamon on it. Don’t knock it till you try it.) I eat fish at least 1 time a week, sometimes more. But I also supplement with fermented cod liver oil and krill oil.

Smoke Point

In general, if the oil smokes, you have denatured it. Throw it away and start over. Seriously. But also be aware that refined oils have almost all been cooked. That is why they are so bad for you. Hydrogenation or being refined is very bad. Notice that on the list of unhealthy oils, most have been refined or hydrogenated and most tend to become rancid easily.  You do not have to refrigerate the good oils and they last forever.

Here are a couple of the recommendations you will find on my Clean Eating Protocol when it comes to fats:

Eat poultry no more than 2 times a week as it is high in omega 6 and low in the conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) found in grass-fed beef. CLA fat is extraordinary because it does not store as a fat, but as muscle instead.  Think about that, meat from a 100% grass-fed cow results in muscle not fat.

Breakdown of SFA, MUFA, PUFA and Linoleic Acid in Fats

fats

In the chart above, the blue is omega 6.  Sunflower, corn oil, soybean oil and cottonseed oil are mostly omega 6 and shoud be avoided when possible.  You can see that butter, coconut oil, lard, palm oil and olive oil are all relatively low in omega-6, which is why I recommend using them whenever possible. The fat with the least omega 6 is coconut oil. Cook with that. Regarding soybean oil, I recommend never eating anything soy-based unless it has been fermented, as soy is an endocrine disrupter (messes with your hormones.)

Cook with organic, cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil, ghee, duck fat, and lard from grass-fed beef and grass-fed butter (preferably raw) as much as possible. Again, raw grass-fed butter has the perfect 1:1 ration of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids.

For cold foods, use organic olive oil for such things as dressings on a limited basis to cut down on Omega 6 fat.

Trans Fats Explained

One more thing that has people really confused is trans fats.  Not all trans fats are bad.  In fact they are some of the healthiest fats we have.  It really depends on how they are sourced.  In this chart we can see the difference between the good trans fats and the bad trans fats.

fats explained

If you would like to have any of my fat charts sent directly to you or you would like to learn more about fats click here:

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