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Posted on 06-02-2014

Good fats vs. Bad fats

You've probably heard by now about Omega-3's.  These are the supposed "healthy fats" that we need for our bodies.  Most people though, have never heard of Omega 6 fats. The importance of Omega 6 fats is that these are widely abundant in a standard american diet. The names simply refer to their chemical makeup, but it's important to understand which fats are good for you and which are not.  Our bodies were designed to have an optimal ratio of 1:1 of these fatty acids. This means that for every omega 6 fat we consume, we should also be consuming an omega 3 fat to ensure we have this balance.  The reason that you see fish oils, flax seed oil, etc. being sold is because we are lacking omega-3 fats in our diet.

In the US today, the ratio for most Americna's is often cited as high as 30:1 of omega-6 to omega-3.  Omega-3s are mostly found in fish, nuts, flax seeds, and algae.  Grass-fed meats and chickens fed fish or flax are also great sources of omega-3s, while grain-fed meats typically have a much lower ratio. 

Having a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio creates a pro-inflammatory and diseased state in our bodies while having the proper ratio supports proper brain function, fights inflammation, and even improves our mental health by lessening the effects of ADHD, depression, and anxiety.

What do I look for on a food label?

The simple answer is any fat that is processed, you should avoid. 

AVOID

1.) Saturated Fats: BAD - Raises bad cholesterol (LDL) and can cause heart disease.

2.) Trans Fats: WORSE - Also raises bad cholesterol (LDL) and also decreases HDL and causes heart disease.

If you see them on a food label, do not consume. They create chronic disease in your body and cause abdominal weight gain and lead to obesity. It may also say something like "Partially hydrogenated" to make it seem healthier on the label. Make sure you read closely.

Examples: 

CONSUME

1.) Monounsaturated Fats: Good - Lower bad cholesterol (LDL)

  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Sesame Oil, Sunflower Oil
  • Peanut Butter or Almond Butter

2.) Polyunsaturated fats: Good - Lowers bad cholesterol (LDL)

  • Flaxseeds
  • Fatty, cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel and herring)
  • Eggs (organic, free range)
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower Seeds 

What should I use when cooking?

When cooking using fats/oils, it's best to use saturated fats (coconut oil, grass-fed butter) since they are highly stable and are more heat resistant than unsaturated fats like olive oil, canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, or vegetable oil.   The unsaturated oils easily become rancid when exposed to heat. In fact, it's best to avoid most vegetable oils due to their extreme ratio of omega-6 fatty acids. If you still want to use olive oil, use it as a finishing oil instead. Most restaurants and fast food chains cook all of their food in these vegetable oils, further putting our bodies out of balance.  A healthy diet includes a good amount of saturated fats as they are critical in our healing processes and immune function. 

Stay tuned for next week on why cholesterol is actually good for you...

Giving you the Simple Truth,

- Dr. Canfield and the Simple Truth Team.

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