The debate over “healthy fats” vs. “unhealthy fats” has been raging on for some time.
Despite a mountain of evidence suggesting that properly chosen fats are a healthful and absolutely essential part of a balanced diet, they still have a pretty bad reputation.
Saturated fats get the worst rap—even prestigious organizations like the National Institute of Health (NIH) are still stuck on the old and tired belief that they make you fat and give you heart disease.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality is that dietary fats are an integral part of your body’s vitamin absorption process, they’re an amazingly efficient source of energy, and they can actually help you lose weight and prevent heart disease.
The enduring misinformation spread about fats leads people dangerously astray. Even when fats are lauded as heathful, it’s usually corn and canola oil that take the spotlight. These (and other) polyunsaturated fats are incredibly destructive to the body—they cause massive inflammation, free radical formation, weight gain, and cardiovascular issues.
These issues are exacerbated when people follow conventional “wisdom” by avoiding saturated fats. Some health experts recommend a diet comprised of 50-70% healthy saturated fats, without which the body is even more hard-pressed to fight systemic inflammation and imbalance.
So why is this blatant lie about saturated fats still being told?
Old habits certainly die hard—years ago, someone put forward the hypothesis that saturated fats are bad for your heart, and now nobody wants to let go of it (even though it’s been conclusively disproved).
There’s a darker answer too, though: polyunsaturated fats are most likely glorified because they’re huge moneymakers for industrial agriculture. This means that many polyunsaturated oils are also GMO (especially soybean oil), which makes avoiding them even more important.
So which fats are the good ones?
As a general rule, you should avoid polyunsaturated fats, which include canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, or anything generically labeled as “vegetable oil.” Doing so is easier said than done—if you haven’t already noticed, these oils are used as ingredients in a staggering array of packaged products.
Here’s our top three healthful fats with which you should replace these health-sapping oils…
Coconut oil, which clocks in at 90% saturated fat, is a true health powerhouse. It contains a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) called lauric acid, which allows it to be processed much more quickly than fats which contain long-chain triglycerides.
MCT’s are processed by the liver and converted into energy with lightning-fast efficiency; this means they don’t easily get stored in fat reserves, and they create clean-burning, long-lasting energy that doesn’t result in a crash (unlike carbohydrates, which spike insulin, provide only short-term energy, and are easily stored as fat).
Coconut oil also has been shown to have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, and it even boosts good cholesterol (HDL).
Always try to use virgin, unrefined coconut oil, which is highest in lauric acid and other beneficial components.
Macadamia nut oil boasts many of the same benefits of coconut oil, without the strong flavor that sometimes discourages people from using coconut oil for cooking (I personally think it tastes divine).
It also contains impressive levels of vitamins and essential fatty acids: magnesium (which relaxes blood vessels and regulates blood sugar), vitamin E (which is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent) and omega-7 (which is one of the greatest natural skin moisturizers).
Olive oil is often presented by mainstream media as the “healthiest oil.” This is certainly a step in the right direction—olive oil is powerfully anti-inflammatory, packed with nutrients, and sustainably energizing.
One thing that’s misconstrued about olive oil, though, is its usability as a cooking oil. While pure olive oil (not virgin or extra virgin) can usually withstand medium heat without breaking down into free radicals, it still can’t withstand high heat cooking (only coconut oil and macadamia nut oil can serve this purpose). Whenever possible, save your olive oil for salad dressings and uncooked dishes.
Redefine your relationship with (healthy) fats
It’s time to stop listening to the mainstream medical pundits about saturated fats. All the facts suggest that a diet low in polyunsaturated fats and high in healthy saturated fats is the way to radiant health.
But don’t just take our word for it. Because of the universal availability of all the oils discussed above, it’s easy to integrate them into your life.
Once you experience the decreased inflammation, increased immune function, and sustainable energy that these healthy (and delicious) fats provide, you’ll be a believer.