In the 1960s, U.S. government health guidelines, the medical establishment, and especially the processed food industry urged Americans to forsake butter and instead focus on grain-based processed foods and industrial-produced seed and vegetable oils. Grocery shelves were soon brimming with low-fat and no-fat faux foods packed with sugar, carbohydrates and omega-6 rich industrial seed oils—all of which are linked to insulin resistance, obesity and chronic inflammation.
But if you balk at the idea of eating butter or avocado, for example, because it seems downright counterintuitive in reducing the risk of disease and helping you maintain your ideal weight, perhaps an easier list to swallow is what type of fats you want to avoid and those that may help protect you from degenerative diseases.
Fats to Avoid
Omega-6 Fats: Omega-6s come from vegetable and seed oils (corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower, canola, cottonseed, peanut). Commercially fried foods and most processed foods (baked goods, sauces, dressings, chips) are loaded with Omega 6s. Conventionally raised beef is also to be avoided, if not for ethical reasons (read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma), than certainly for health reasons. Grain-fed beef can have up to 50 times more Omega-6s than Omega-3s.
Trans Fats: Get out your magnifying glass and start reading labels before you even think of buying another box, jar or can at your grocery store. Treat anything with the word “hydrogenated” as toxic. According to the Institute of Medicine, with trans fats, “there is no safe level to consume.”
Fats to Consume
Omega-3 Fats: The good news is that Omega-3s are found in wild salmon, sardines, pastured eggs, grass-fed beef and bison. Not as beneficial as the Omega-3s from animal sources, but still good, are walnuts, flax seeds and hemp seeds.
Saturated Fat: Consider butter, lard, tallow, and all dairy that is sourced from grass-fed cows, pastured pork, free-range chickens and wild game. Coconut oil is also on the “A” team.
Monounsaturated Fat: Best associated with the Mediterranean Diet, these fats come from nuts, avocados and olives as well as oils from these foods.
For further information, you’ll enjoy reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. Bon Appetit.
Editor in Chief