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LiveHelfi Blog

Making healthy choices in good fats vs bad fats

Posted on 04-May-2016 12:11:00 Bart

Posted in Advice

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With these lists, you can make healthy choices about which fats you should choose and which to avoid. I will also explain why consuming good fats is important.

 What’s the deal with fats?

Here at Helfi, we receive a lot of questions about healthy and bad fats. It is no wonder people are confused.

First of all, there are many different kinds of fats (also known as fatty acids). There are monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids and saturated fatty acids. Each of these types of fats can be further subdivided. For example, polyunsaturated fatty acids can be subdivided into Omega 3, 5, 7 and 9. Omega 3 fatty acids have 11 different kinds of subclasses. So it's easy to miss the bigger picture.

Secondly, insights into healthy versus bad fats are changing. Remember, for example, saturated fats and trans fats. In the past, the advice was to keep your intake of saturated fats to a minimum. Nowadays, some types of saturated fats are actually considered healthy. All trans fats used to be considered unhealthy. But now we know that grass-fed butter and beef from grass-fed cows contain trans fats that have considerable health advantages.

So it gets a bit complicated. We have created a clear overview of foods with good and bad fats so you can make an informed choice. We base this overview on research conducted by Dave Asprey and other thought leaders in the field of Paleo. 

Healthy fats

The most natural fats and certain extracts thereof fall in this category. In general, they tend to be fats that were consumed by our prehistoric ancestors, or a derivative of those fats.

Good fats from coconut products

  1. Coconut oil
  2. Coconut oil and palm oil extracts like XCT Oil, Brain Octane Oil or other kinds of MCT oil. 
     

Good fats from seafood

  1. Oily wild fish (for example herring, mackerel, wild salmon, sardines)
  2. Wild crustaceans (for example crab, lobster, prawns)
  3. Molluscs (such as oysters or mussels)
  4. Premium fish oil supplements
  5. Krill oil

Good fats from animal produce

  1. 100% organic grass-fed beef
  2. 100% organic grass-fed lamb
  3. Offal from 100% organic grass-fed beef or lamb.
  4. 100% organic grass-fed lamb
  5. Extracts from 100% organic grass-fed cows, such as beef fat/tallow
  6. Organic eggs from chickens that can walk outside and that partly consume animal feed (like worms)
  7. Butter and ghee from 100% organic milk from grass-fed cows

Other good fats from plants

  1. Organic extra virgin olive oil (in small amounts)
  2. Olives (in small amounts)
  3. Avocados, either organic or ordinary
  4. Organic chocolate and cocoa, preferably raw
  5. Unroasted nuts, such as almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, walnuts (in small amounts)

The in-between fats

This category comprises:

Fats from seafood

  1. Oily farmed fish (farmed salmon, for example)
  2. Farmed crustaceans (farmed prawns, for example)

Fats from animal produce

  1. Partly or fully grain-fed beef
  2. Non-grass-fed lamb
  3. Organic or ordinary pork
  4. Organic or ordinary chicken
  5. Duck fat or goose fat
  6. Butter and ghee from grain-fed cows
  7. Organic or ordinary eggs from chickens that are only fed vegetarian food
  8. Organic grass-fed milk and cheese with A2 casein (from Jersey and Guernsey cows, amongst others). A2 casein is a protein that leads to fewer inflammatory reactions than A1 casein. 
  9. Goat cheese

Other fats from plants:

  1. Ordinary chocolate and cocoa with a high cocoa percentage (70% minimum)
  2. Palm oil or extra virgin palm oil
  3. Non-organic and/or virgin olive oil (in small amounts)
  4. All fats from the in-between category are suboptimal.  Farmed fish contains a lot of antibiotics. Grain-fed beef often also contains a lot of antibiotics and has a worse fatty acid profile than grass-fed beef.
  5. However, it's better to opt for these fats than the "bad fats" below!

Bad fats

This category comprises:

Fats from animal produce

  1. Chicken fat and meat from cut-price chicken
  2. Grain-fed milk and cheese, or when these come from cows that produce A1 casein (including the customary Holstein cows). A1 casein is a protein that induces strong inflammatory responses. It is strongly recommended to avoid very mouldy cheeses.

Other fats from plants

  1. Roasted nuts, such as almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, walnuts
  2. Peanuts
  3. Margarine and low-fat margarine
  4. Oil from grains (wheat germ oil, or oil from other grains)
  5. Sunflower oil
  6. Rapeseed oil
  7. Peanut oil
  8. All soy products including soy oil
  9. Maize oil

No matter what the circumstances are, try to avoid these types of fatty acids as much as you can.

I recommend you avoid all fats from the category "bad fats". Roasted nuts contain damaged fats, margarine contains unnatural and potentially cancer-inducing trans fats, and sunflower oil and rapeseed oil have a very bad fatty acid ratio.

Why healthy fats matter

There are a few reasons why healthy fats matter. I have listed the most important reasons here:

  1. Healthy fats are good for the heart and blood vessels. Too many carbohydrates can worsen certain measures of a healthy heart and blood vessels such as triglycerides. Fatty acids from wild oily fish, molluscs and crustaceans, on the other hand, help prevent cardiovascular diseases. 
  2. Healthy fats help you lose weight. Healthy fats do not affect your blood sugar level, in contrast to carbohydrates and sugars. They also make you feel less hungry. Finally, healthy fats contain many nutrients so that you will be less tempted by unhealthy foods.
  3. Healthy fats help you gain and maintain muscle. An improved carbohydrate metabolism from consuming healthy fats means that if you do eat any carbohydrates, they will be stored in muscle rather than body fat.
  4. Increased libido. Hormones are literally made from the fats and cholesterol you consume. A low-fat level in your diet leads to a hormonal imbalance, for both men and women.
  5. Better mental performance. Signal substances such as dopamine and serotonin are made from fats, and our brains also consist mostly of fat.
  6. Improved mood. Healthy fats, especially fats from wild oily fish, crustaceans and molluscs contain fats that can improve your mood.
  7. A strong immune system. Fats from coconut oil, for example, have properties that combat viruses, bacteria, fungi and yeasts. Fats from wild oily fish, crustaceans and molluscs also improve the quantity and quality of your white blood cells, to protect the body from invaders.
  8. A strong bone structure. Healthy fats contain many fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D and K, which are important for building and maintaining a healthy bone structure.
  9. Healthier lungs. Our lung surface, just like our brains, consists mostly of fat - and in the case of the lungs, this is primarily saturated fat. These healthy saturated fats can be found in coconut products or animal produce from the land. Moreover, fatty acids from healthy wild fish, crustaceans and molluscs will make the lungs themselves healthier.
  10. Less pain. Healthy fats are anti-inflammatory. Inflammatory responses are not only the cause of cardiovascular diseases but also inflictions such as arthritis. Healthy fats can lessen the sensation of pain from these conditions. Similarly, athletes can recover quicker by consuming healthy fatty acids, because inflammatory responses are related to recovery after training.

Conclusion 

With this overview, you can make healthy choices when it comes to fats. You now know the reasons for including healthy fats in your diet - the benefits of healthy fats are comprehensive.

To make the most impact on your health and mental performance, I recommend combining the four categories of healthy fats. For example, you could start your day with Bulletproof Coffee with Brain Octane and butter from grass-fed cows. You immediately cover two categories this way - healthy fats from animal produce and healthy fats from coconut products. For lunch, you could have a mackerel salad, for example, so you get your healthy fats from seafood. In the evening, you can have hamburgers from grass-fed beef with avocado, lime, sea salt and black pepper [1]. This way you will also get healthy fats from plants. Try to vary within the individual categories of animal produce and plants as well. Avocado fats, for example, are very different than fats from (raw) cocoa.

All fats from the in-between category are suboptimal. I would still recommend you use these fats to replace any "bad fats". So if your budget does not allow for grass-fed beef several times a week, it is better to choose fatty acids from grain-fed beef than cut-price chicken. And fresh goat cheese is a much better alternative than mouldy blue cheese.

If you look through the aisles of most supermarkets, you should be able to find offers for products from the "in-between" category of fats. So your finances shouldn't force you to opt for the bad fats category.

Should you want to know more about good and bad fats, you can download our e-book on the Bulletproof Lifestyle. The e-book contains a more comprehensive explanation of the importance of fats in the construction of a successful lifestyle.

[1] For the full recipe, go to: http://civilizedcavemancooking.com/recipes/beef/avocado-stuffed-burger/organic grass-fed beef

Written by Bart