Fat: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Fats are essential for optimal well-being and weight loss. Let’s focus on which fats to include in your diet and which you need to avoid at all costs.

The Good Fats

The good fats to eat are a combination of:

  • omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
  • natural saturated fats
  • additional healthy fats (listed below)

Fatty fish is one of the best sources of the omega-3 oils. Salmon, halibut, and sardines are great, but it is important to purchase fish that is free of harmful mercury and other toxins (see chart below).  We recommend eating fish with the least amount of mercury and to avoid farmed fish which are high in PCBs and other contaminants. You can also have very high quality fish shipped to your door from the unpolluted waters of Alaska when you go through www.VitalChoice.com. See below for a delicious fish recipe.

Enjoy these fish:
Crab (Domestic)
Croaker (Atlantic)
Haddock (Atlantic)*
Mackerel (N. Atlantic, Chub)
Perch (Ocean)
Salmon (Canned)**
Salmon (Fresh)**
Shad (American)
Sole (Pacific)
Squid (Calamari)
Trout (Freshwater)

Eat six servings or less per month:
Bass (Striped, Black)
Cod (Alaskan)*
Croaker (White Pacific)
Halibut (Atlantic)*
Halibut (Pacific)
Mahi Mahi
Perch (Freshwater)
Tuna (Canned
chunk light)
Tuna (Skipjack)*
Weakfish (Sea Trout)

Eat three servings or less per month:
Mackerel (Spanish, Gulf)
Sea Bass (Chilean)*
Tuna (Canned Albacore)
Tuna (Yellowfin)*
Avoid eating:
Mackerel (King)
Orange Roughy*
(Bigeye, Ahi)*

Source: http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/mercury/guide.asp

It is surprising for many people to learn that omega-3 fats are even more effective when they are combined in the diet with some saturated fats. Adequate saturated fats are necessary for optimal storage and assimilation of the unsaturated omega-3 oils in the body tissues.

One of the natural saturated fats we recommend is butter. Organic butter (grass fed and raw if possible) contains vitamins A and D as well as compounds which promote weight loss and fight cancer (conjugated linoleic acid and butyric acid). It is heat stable and excellent for cooking and baking. The quarterly magazine of the Weston Price foundation contains a classified section of many grass-fed farms offering raw butter, and here are some websites we found that offer some excellent quality products:

The other saturated fat we highly recommend is coconut oil, as well as the additional food products made from coconut. Coconut has a long history of use in traditional diets and the cultures who have consumed a high amount of coconut in their diets have been very healthy on average. Coconut acquired a bad reputation in years past due to improperly done research and due to the vegetable oil companies who launched a smear campaign to encourage everyone to switch from coconut oil to vegetable oil.

Like butter, coconut oil is heat-stable and ideal for cooking and baking. It also makes a good addition to smoothies (it makes a nice combination with fruit and other naturally healthy fats such as raw dairy or coconut milk and fish or cod liver oil for a delicious breakfast or snack--see recipe below). It has many health benefits. It is widely available at natural foods stores and you can buy an excellent quality coconut oil in the Enlita store.

Additional Healthy Fats

  • Avocados- high in omega-9 (a monounsaturated fat)
  • Nuts and seeds (raw and unsalted are preferable) and their oils including macadamia and walnut oils.
  • Cream from grass fed cows (raw if possible)
  • Flax oil (very unstable so keep refrigerated and do not heat)
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil- high in omega-9 (a monounsaturated fat)
  • Fats from pastured animals: lard, duck fat, etc.- these fats are often called saturated, but they are actually monounsaturated and are said to lower LDL and leave HDL alone

Supplemental Fats

Krill oil, cod liver oil, and fish oil are all wonderful sources of omega-3 fats that we recommend in supplemental form.  We address these essential fatty acids in detail in our lessons.

What Are Bad Fats to Avoid?

  • Polyunsaturated vegetable oils including soybean, corn, canola and safflower are unstable and are easily damaged by heat. They lower HDL and may contribute to cancer. Fats like soy and corn oil are ubiquitous in processed foods but the others are found in numerous products marketed as health foods. Make sure to read labels and avoid them whenever possible
  • Hydrogenated fats/trans-fats (margarine, “partially hydrogenated” oils, fried foods): very unnatural fats your body cannot process or digest and whose detrimental health effects include increased blood sugar, LDL (bad cholesterol levels), and blood pressure as well as illnesses including ADHD, heart disease, and cancer3

While sesame, peanut, and grapeseed oils are not dangerous like the above, they are quite high in omega-6. Because most people already get enough omega-6s in their diet, these oils should play a limited role in your nutritional program.

About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created Enlita.com to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)