The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly; The Truth About Fats And Oils

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the issue of fats – constantly we are hearing about the benefits of a low fat diet, and more recently the benefits of good fats. This article takes a look at the different types of fats and helps to de-bunk some common myths.

Myth # 1: Margarine is a healthier option than butter
This is an important myth to debunk because margarine is marketed as the cholesterol free option, being low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from the vegetables it is produced from. All of these facts are true of margarine but what they don’t tell you is that margarine is actually a trans-fatty acid (TFA).

TFAs are made when the natural structure of the fat molecule is altered. This is why margarine, which is made from liquid oils, is solidified as it undergoes a hydrogenation process. TFA are not used in the body the same as their natural form and studies have shown that they actually increase LDL (Bad) cholesterol and decrease HDL (good) cholesterol in the body. In addition to this they cause inflammation, which can have a detrimental effect on health. Margarine includes Proactive, Nuttlex and olive oil spreads, which are particularly high in trans fats.

Good organic butter contains vitamins A, E and D, as well as butyric acid which is good for gut health. Include some in your diet in small amounts.

Myth # 2 : Fats make you fat
The truth of the matter is that your body rarely makes fat directly from dietary fats, it actually makes fat from carbohydrates (sugars). This is why many people who undertake in low fat diet programs have trouble keeping off the weight, as they are often high in carbohydrates such as sugar. It is better to include beneficial fats in the diet as these will help your body to regulate metabolism. This and reducing sugar and simple carbohydrates in the diet will aid weight loss as you body will start to use up its fat reserves.

Myth # 3 : Saturated fat is bad
Saturated fat is needed in the body but in comparison to other fats intake should be lower. Saturated fats are needed in the diet for your cellular membranes to remain soft and supple. A diet which is high in polyunsaturated fat and devoid of saturated fats leads to rigid cell membranes, which can even cause hardening of the arteries.

Saturated fat from non-organic animal sources should however be avoided as this is where excess hormones and toxins are stored. Some saturated fats are beneficial such as coconut oil and organic meat fats, so refer to the table below for good fat choices.

Myth # 4: oils ain’t oils
Not all oils are manufactured the same way. If oils are heat extracted it creates high amounts of trans-fats and even make the oil rancid. Always make sure that you use cold-pressed oils, organic if possible.

Canola oil should be avoided as the processing method of extraction, which involves chemical solvents means that the oil remaining is not very healthy at all.

Try not to to eat these oils at all…

  • Margarine, Nuttlex, olive oil and plant oil based spreads
  • Non-organic excess animal fat
  • Non-organic chicken skin
  • Canola oil
  • Deep fried foods
  • Lard
  • Copha
  • Sunflower oil
  • Cooking spray oil
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Vegetable oil

The following oils should be consumed sometimes…

  • Organic animal fats
  • Organic chicken skin
  • Butter
  • Palm oil
  • Ghee
  • Mustard seed oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Grape seed oil
  • Emu oil

These oils should be consumed often, on an everyday basis to maintain good health…

  • Avocado
  • Avocado oil*
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Rice bran oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Macadamia oil
  • Flaxseed oil (unheated)*
  • Linseed oil (unheated)*
  • Almond oil*
  • Coconut oil
  • Fish oils *
  • Hemp seed oil*
  • Pumpkin seed oil*

*these oils should never be used for cooking, use cold only

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Katherine Maslen

Author

Hey, I’m Katherine Maslen, naturopath, nutritionist, host of The Shift podcast, author and renegade for health.
Since completing 2 bachelor degrees in health science over 12 years ago, I’ve been helping peeps just like you to be their best through awesome health. I’ve spent most of this time one on one in clinical practice – in the trenches with my clients to navigate them through the minefield that is imperfect health.

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