In this section, we’ll look at the different kinds of fat, which ones we should be eating, and where to get them from.
The good, the bad, and the indifferent
Fats are made of chains of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. They can be “saturated” or “unsaturated” depending on how many hydrogen molecules they contain. The more hydrogen molecules, the more saturated they are. Polyunsaturated fats are the least saturated, while saturated fats and so-called trans fats have all the hydrogen molecules they can hold.
Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and come from vegetable sources. They’ve long been promoted as a healthy form of fat. Saturated fats are found primarily in animal products, and are solid fats. For decades, they have been demonized as artery-clogging substances, but there’s a growing consensus that the original research linking saturated fats and cardiovascular disease may have been fatally flawed. In addition, recent research strongly suggests that not only are saturated fats not harmful, they may actually be better for you than unsaturated ones. In fact, a meta-analysis of nearly 80 earlier studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last year found that people who eat high amounts of saturated fat have no more heart disease than those who restrict it.
Trans fats, which have been unequivocally linked to many health problems, are a man-made creation. They include such things as vegetable shortening, and are produced by artificially introducing extra hydrogen atoms into naturally unsaturated fats such as vegetable oils to make them solid. You’ll find trans fats listed in ingredient lists as “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils of various types.
How much should you eat?
As with so many nutritional questions, it depends on who you ask. The USDA–who till recently encouraged us to eat 6-11 servings of bread, rice, pasta, and grains—suggests that you limit your fat intake to less than 10% of your total calories, while NIH guidelines raise the limit to 25-35%. Other experts, such as Dr. Ron Rosedale, suggest that 50% is a much more healthy number.
Sources of healthy fats
Good sources of healthy saturated fat include
- Grass fed butter
- Free-range eggs
- Grass-fed meats
- Coconut oil
Good sources of unsaturated fats are:
- Olives and olive oil
- Raw almonds, pecans, pistachios, and cashews
- Sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds
Even though Canola (Aka Rapeseed oil), Safflower, Soybean and corn oils are also high in unsaturated fats some studies have suggested that these “Healthy Oils” are not as good for you as once thought. It is suggested that we replace these oils in cooking with the above listed fats