Which fats should you be consuming? And more importantly avoiding

I can’t emphasise it enough, fats are essential to good health. Every cell in the body is surrounded by a membrane composed of fat. 60% of the brain is fat, fat is the building blocks of hormones, it affects the absorption of minerals, fat provides the heart with 60% of its energy and is essential for healthy skin and hair. These are just some of the reasons fat is essential for good health.

Despite its importance in our health, there is a lot of confusion around fat and particularly what fats we should be consuming. This is a conversation I had this week on my podcast Unstress with David Gillespie. In this episode we discussed the problems with vegetable oils (eg. sunflower oil, soybean oil, canola oil, etc) and they detrimental effects have on our health. From links to obesity to dementia, increasing evidence is demonstrating that these highly processed fats are not our friends.

So what fats should you be consuming?

Good fats

  • Olive oil – great choice but watch out for imposters. Cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil is the best option. As an added tip, check the region the oil was produced in. If it comes from more than one region it is likely not a true extra-virgin olive oil and should therefore be avoided.
  • Animal fat (includes lard, tallow, fowl fat, etc) – these are stable and safe for cooking, but use in moderation. I love using these fats for roasting root vegetables.
  • Coconut oil – good to use at high temperatures
  • Avocado – great for cooking with high heat, but use sparingly
  • Macadamia oil
  • Butter
  • Ghee

Use with caution

  • Peanut oil – popular in Asian food, but not something to use often
  • Sesame oil – high in antioxidants and stable at moderate heat
  • Flaxseed oil – high in omega 3, however it needs to be refrigerated and should never be heated.
  • Hazelnut oil

Listen: Dr. Ron Ehrlich interviews David Gillespie. Post continues after audio.

Avoid these oils and fats

  • Canola
  • Sunflower
  • Safflower
  • Corn
  • Grapeseed
  • Cottonseed
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Other nut oils (including walnut, pecan, pine, brazil, etc)

I recently wrote a post on essential fatty acids and why they are an important part of a health diet.

Nutrition is something I explore in great depth in my new book, A Life Less Stressed.