There are a few families of Fat, and not all of them are friendly. Dietary fats are essential for our health, but we need to know which fats are good, which fats are bad and which are downright ugly.
- Saturated Fats are an excellent source of fat, especially for cooking.
- Monounsaturated Fats are a great source of fat.
- Polyunsaturated Fats are tricky.
- Trans Fats, or ‘partially hydrogenated fats’, are poison.
Read on for a complete low-down on Dietary Fats.
Just arrived and new to Paleo? Read the previous post, What’s So Good About Fat? And Why You Want to be a Fat Burner, as well as the posts under the Paleo FAQ tab on the menu bar. Many of those posts also come with Free Printables.
Saturated Fats, or Saturated Fatty Acids (SFA’s) are:
- solid at room temperature
- an excellent sources of calories
- very stable when exposed to air, heat and light, which makes them the healthiest choice for cooking
- essential for cell membranes and protect against oxidative damage
- important for critical metabolic processes including nutrient assimilation, immune function and hormone production
- contain large amounts of essental fat-soluble vitamins including K2, A and D
- found mostly in animal fats
Good Sources of Saturated Fat include Butter, Clarified Butter or Ghee, Duck fat, Lard (pig fat) Tallow (beef fat). Animal products like tallow, lard and butter also contain good amounts of Monounsaturated Fats.
Tip: To avoid residues of pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, toxic metals etc, source your Saturated Fat from pasture raised, organic livestock whenever possible.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA’s) are:
- liquid at room temperature
- good sources of fat
- not as stable as the Saturated Fats so shouldn’t be the first choice when cooking, but rather should be used fresh as a condiment
- important for maintaining stable blood pressure and healthy cholesterol levels, thus offer protection against cardiovascular disease
- anti-inflammatory and enhance immune function
- are found in a variety of plant foods, oils and animal products.
Good sources of Monounsaturated Fat include Avocado and Avocado Oil, Hazelnuts, Macadamia nuts, Olives and cold pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Tip: Only buy your Monosaturated Fat in dark bottles or containers, and store them in a dark place.
Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFA’s) are:
- liquid, even when refrigerated
- not black-and-white or easy to get right
- very unstable when exposed to heat, air and light (including the light of a supermarket, and the heat from cooking)
- so unstable that they oxidise and turn rancid quickly, predisposing us to inflammation and free radicals.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 are
- two of the most important polyunsaturated fats
- Essential Fatty Acids, which means that the body can’t produce them, and they must received through the diet
- healthy when consumed in a 1:1 ratio (now, commonly consumed 1:10, up to 1:25)
- important for the brain, skin, immune system and cardiovascular system
- anti-inflammatory (in a 1:1 ration), reducing risk of heart attack, autoimmune disorders and cognitive problems
Good Sources of PUFA include animals and fish raised in their natural environment, organic eggs, green leaves and algae, cold pressed olive oil. The highest concentrations of Omega 3 are found in oily, coldwater fish, especially salmon, mackerel, anchiovy, sardines and herring.
Bad sources of PUFA include all refined seed and legume oils. such as canola, corn, peanut, sunflower, soy and safflower oils. They are most likely already rancid when you buy them, and should be eliminated from your diet. Margerine, salad dressings, industrially prepared foods and snacks containing PUFAs should also be eliminated, as well as restaurant foods and fried food which are invariable cooked in PUFA oils.
OK in Moderation sources of PUFA include nuts and seeds, and cold pressed seed and nut oils, such as linseed oil and walnut oil. Use in a limited way, and avoid cooking with them.
Tip: Increase your intake of Omega 3. Counterbalance your PUFA intake with foods high in antioxidants which fight free radicals.
Trans Fats or Partially Hydrogenated Fats
Partially Hydrogenated Fats, or ‘Trans Fats’
- are poison and should be banned for life
- are not natural, but synthetic
- are manufactured by heating an unsaturated fat to a high tempertature under extreme pressure, and then mixing it with toxic metallic solvents so that the carbon bonds become saturated with hydrogen
- are solid at room temperature, which is good for food manufacturing as it prolongs shelf life and profit
- are very unstable and form free radical chain reactions that promote sistemic inflammation, obesity, immune disorders, heart disease etc
- are warped, dysfunctional fat molecules, which the body incorporates into fat-based cell membranes with disastrous consequences
- are estimated to cause around 100,000 deaths a year in the USA from cancer and heart disease
- raise unhealthy cholesterol, whilst depleting beneficial cholesterol levels
- cause an immediate disruption in the normal dilation of arteries that occurs during exercise, which can last up to 24 hours
- inflict direct damage at the DNA level (like radiation)
- are found in the majority of conventionally packaged, processed, frozen and fast foods
- have been banned in all restaurants in New York City since 2008
- have been ‘superseded’ by ‘interesterified’ fats, which are also hydrogenated, and with a warped molecular structure
Sources of Trans Fats include margerine, other fake forms of butter, and most processed foods such as cookies, cakes, crackers, ready-made meals and potato chips.
Tip: Read the labels on every food packaged food product. Don’t buy it if it contains trans fat, and don’t buy it if there are any ingredients whatsoever that you don’t recognise or fully understand.
Top Primal Tip with regards to Dietary Fats: Eat more avocado and olive oil. Don’t be afraid of bacon, butter and coconut cream. Eat nuts and seeds in moderation. Say no to refined vegetable and legume oils. Avoid trans fats like the plague. All of this in the context of a low-carb diet, of course.
Read the previous post, What’s So Good About Fat? And Why You Want to be a Fat Burner. (Also with a Free Printable.)
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