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Fats: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Fats: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

“As for butter vs. margarine. I trust cows more than chemists.” – Joan Gussow






I went through a phase in high school where all I would eat was fat-free. Special K for breakfast with fat free milk, fat free bagel at lunch with I can’t believe it’s not butter spray and fat-free Doritos made with olestra which I just recently found out have warnings of ‘ possible anal leakage.’ UM, GROSS!


Fat-free cookies are fat-free so yea I can definitely eat the whole box and not get fat. Right? 

The packaged, processed, fat-free foods are not even close to resembling real food. So why does fat-free tend to make us fatter over time? Since the fat is taken out, they need to replace it with something else to actually taste good; namely sugar, or fake sugar, low quality salt, and chemicals to give just the perfect amount of crunch. The ingredients found in these are mostly hydrogenated oils, ‘natural flavors’ which can really be anything hidden in that little unregulated label, and ten more chemical ingredients made in a lab that I can’t pronounce.

I didn’t fully understand the impact of how important fats were until I specialized in hormonal health. Many of my clients come to me with hormonal imbalance and barely any fat (or cholesterol) in their diet. Healthy fats and healthy cholesterol are the building blocks for hormone production.  You cannot produce hormones without them. The amount of times I hear “I eat really well; fat-free, egg-whites only.” makes me cringe. Not just because I don’t agree, but because the person is trying so hard to do what is ‘right’ and is just being given bad information.

It can be a process to explain why fat doesn’t make you fat and attempt to help a client un-learn what the media has been trying to sell us.


Why doesn’t fat make us fat?


 High quality fats are used by the body, especially the brain which is 60% fat.

 Fat doesn’t trigger the hormonal dance that causes fat storage the way sugar and other carbohydrates do. Fat doesn’t mobilize insulin like sugar does, which means keeping a stable blood-sugar and feeling fuller longer.

images-1 When you take the fat out of dairy (fat-free milk or fat-free cheese) you leave the starch, the lactose, which then digests very quickly and like sugar or carbs would in your body. The fat is where the nutrients are.

 Eat the whole food. I CRINGE when I see fat-free dairy being recommended for pregnancy.  Check out the Harvard study linking low fat dairy to infertility here.

 Fats help our body absorb many vital nutrients like vitamin A, D & E. Think of fat transporting these nutrients into the cell like a key opening a door. Without fats, there’s no way to unlock the door to get in.

images Fats also tell our body when we are done eating (hence that never ending box of fat free cookies). –>


How do we know which kind of fat to eat? 



My favorite fats are saturated fats, which Time magazine agrees with on their summer cover titled ‘Eat Butter.’ You can imagine how happy I was to see that. Our body’s fat is 97% saturated fat & 3% monounsaturated fat (half of that 3% being omega 3 fats.) The old idea that saturated fat is bad for you is slowly being dis-proven.

Saturated fats help build cell walls, absorb minerals, convert beta-carotene into Vit A, act as fuel for the brain, lowers cholesterol levels, acts as an anti-viral and modulates genetic regulation and helps prevent cancer.

In 2010 the recommendation called for reducing saturated fat intake to 10% of diet, as little as 4 years later the science is finally catching up and says it should comprise anywhere from 50-85% of your diet.

Quoted from Dr. Mark Hyman: “A review of all the research on saturated fat published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found there was no correlation between saturated fat and heart disease.  And a recent editorial in the British Journal of Medicine hammers home the same point and shatters the myth that fat causes obesity and heart disease.  Researchers have found that, while it’s true that lowering saturated fat in the diet may lower total cholesterol, it’s actually lowering the good kind of cholesterol, the light, fluffy, buoyant LDL that’s not a problem.”


The issue with polyunsaturated fats is that they are unstable and oxidize really easily, either sitting on the shelf, getting too much light, or in the cooking process.

Trans fats are when something hardens (see: hydrogenated anything). These linked to heart disease and can clog your arteries.


If we give our body the wrong fats, it has no choice but to use those unhealthy fats to repair cells, bringing those oxidized, rancid fats into the cell and causing inflammation, mutation, and some evidence suggests PCOS & endometriosis. We truly are what we eat.


What to eat and not to eat:


THE GOOD! 🙂 (saturated)

 Coconut oil (higher heat tolerance to cook with as well)


 Organic pastured egg (including the yolks)

 Olives & Olive Oil (I don’t recommend cooking with olive oil, it has a low heat tolerance and can go rancid quickly)

 Butter (from grass-fed, pasture raised cows, raw is best!) High heat tolerance and great to cook with. Can find raw dairy here (http://www.westonaprice.org/get-involved/find-local-chapter/).

 Raw nuts & seeds: almond, chia, flax, pecan, seeds

 Pasture raised meats (always chew really well to help digestion!).

 Fish high in omega 3


THE BAD & THE UGLY (polyunsaturated & trans)

Canola oil (even insects avoid this) the distilling process of deodorizing and bleaching involves very high heat which reduces omega 3, it is also linked to health issues like fatty degeneration of kidneys, adrenal & thyroid gland.

Soybean oil (absolute disaster for your hormones) 99% of American soy is GMO. Soy is a hormone disruptor & can cause thyroid damage thanks to the large quantities of phyto-estrogens (looks just like estrogen in your body, causing estrogen-dominance).

Cottonseed oil (especially if allergic to peanuts)

Peanut oil

Vegetable oil (usually made from soybean, corn, or safflower) These are typically chemically removed and deodorized.

Margarine or shortening. Highly processed and hydrogenated so that it resembles butter instead of being liquid; has emulsifiers, colorants and artificial ingredients.


Fast Fact: Despite popular belief and mass marketing of the 90s that fats are bad for us, fats are a necessary and important nutrient for optimum hormonal health. Fats don’t make us fat, sugar does. Choose your fat carefully, picking real food with little processing from organic plants or pasture raised, healthy animals.

Action: Every person is different so work out just how much fat you can have. Some bodies can only have a bit, but please give your body something real to work with that isn’t made in a lab but is instead made from a plant or healthy animal. Keeping your hormones, brain, and body healthy.

 Love and brussels sprouts,


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