It seems that almost everyone has an opinion about fats.
For decades now, we’ve been directed towards supermarket shelves stacked with glistening bottles of vegetable oils, while traditional saturated fats have languished in nutritional exile as dangerous and damaging to our health.
But those golden vegetable oils are not all that they seem.
Conventional nutritional philosophy depicts saturated fats as the bad guys of nutrition, responsible for most of the serious contemporary illnesses and chronic conditions borne by humanity—from diabetes and heart disease to auto-immune disorders and cancers.
Since the 1950s, we’ve been led to believe that saturated fatty acids are ‘bad’, while polyunsaturated fatty acids are ‘good’. We’ve dutifully sourced our dietary fats from highly processed vegetable oils, in order to promote good health and guard ourselves against disease.
And yet, rates of obesity, cancer and other serious illness continue to rise in developed Western nations.
So where are we going wrong?
Know your fats—the good and the bad
For anyone pursuing a healthy, wholefoods-based lifestyle, it’s vitally important to understand the difference between beneficial and harmful fats.
Industrially-processed liquid vegetable oils and artificially-hardened vegetable oils contain trans fatty acids (which affect the body’s ability to regulate cholesterol) and are laden with free radicals (highly reactive atoms in cells which react with cell components to cause cell damage).
These damaging substances are formed during processing and are far more likely to contribute to serious disease and poor health outcomes, including cancer, heart disease, immune system dysfunction and osteoporosis. Industrially-processed fats are contained in a huge range of food products and include:
- hydrogenated vegetable oils
- industrially processed liquid oils (including soy, corn, safflower, cottonseed and canola)
- any fats and oils that are heated to very high temperatures in processing and frying.
The truth about saturated fats
Conversely, natural saturated fats, such as butter, lard and coconut oil (which tend to be solid at room temperature) provide a concentrated source of energy in the diet and bring a variety of health benefits.
Many scientific studies have now shown that traditional sources of fats, including saturated fats, have a range of significant health benefits, and it is the industrially-processed, vegetable-based fats on our grocery and pantry shelves that are the real culprits when it comes to poor health and disease.
Returning to traditional wisdom
Incorporating beneficial saturated fats in your diet doesn't have to be complicated, nor is it a new idea.
For centuries, human beings have consumed and benefitted from natural saturated fats sourced from animal products, dairy foods and tropical oils. A balanced, wholefoods-based diet that includes a range of nutrient-rich, traditional fats can have a protective and highly beneficial impact on health.
Saturated fats contain essential, fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamin A and D) and have been shown to have a range of positive impacts on human health, including:
- strengthening the immune system
- protecting against heart disease and cancer
- improving cellular health
- promoting optimum brain function
The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends the following high nutrient fats:
- Butter and ghee
- Tallow and suet (from grass fed beef)
- Lard (from pastured pork)
- Chicken, goose and duck fat
- Coconut, palm and palm kernel oils (ethically sourced), extra virgin olive oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Expeller-expressed sesame and peanut oils
- Expeller-expressed flax oil (in small amounts)
And what about fish oils?
Saturated fats are also an important source of fat-soluble vitamins, including Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Fish liver oils, such as cod liver oil, are a prime source of these vitamins and are preferable to standard fish oils, which do not provide fat-soluble vitamins, can cause an overload of unsaturated fatty acids and are often sourced from farmed fish.
If you include fish oils in your diet, make sure you choose a high-quality supplement that has the best nutrient content for your needs—such as Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil, which provides ample amounts of the fat-soluble A and D vitamins and the Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.
Finding your fats
Sourcing and preparing high-nutrient, traditional fats in their original form, such as organ meats, or even dripping and lard, can sometimes prove challenging. However, high-quality, nutrient-dense wholefoods, including high vitamin cod liver oil and freeze dried organ meats, are easily available online.
GPA Wholefoods offers an array of healthy, pure fats to help you to build and sustain good health for yourself and your family, including:
- Beef dripping, suet, lard and duck fat
- Coconut buttter and ghee
- Fermented cod liver, skate liver and butter oils
These are just some of the nutrient-dense products that we have sourced for you from the highest quality producers around the world.
Living a well-nourished life is often about finding the right information to help us make informed choices about our nutrition. We hope the information we’ve shared here has helped your understanding of beneficial fats, and how easily you can incorporate them into your diet.