Fat Friday – Clearing Up Confusion on Types of Fat

Happy Fat Friday!!!

There is a lot of confusion out there concerning fat.  A devastating mistake recently occurred in the fast food and restaurant world!  Tragically,  during the misguided crusade to get  Saturated fats out of fast food, the industry took saturated fats out that do well with frying and replaced it with hydrogenated Polyunsaturated fats! This is completely detrimental to our health because as you will learn today, these Polyunsaturated fats are very delicate.  When heated they morph into TRANS FATS.   (These trans fats are also often times used in most processed foods like potato chips too…)

This is like adding fuel to the fire of heart disease!  If I was a conspiracy theorist (I  am not saying that I am NOT one) it would be easy to consider the possibility of the Pharmaceutical industry perhaps partnering with the FDA to orchestrate the swap out of Saturated fats with Trans Fats in order to sell more Cardiovascular drugs….This is entirely another topic of conversation.

No matter what, this swap out of fats used in our food supply is damaging to our health and these trans fats are what are causing the steep rise in heart disease.  Pure animal based saturated fats are actually HEALTHY for our bodies if consumed in moderation.  We need these fats, along with a balance of the Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats in order to function optimally!  I hope to bring some clarity on this wonderful nutrient today.

To start, I want to emphasize the reality is that FAT IS NOT BAD! Fats are good for you when chosen well and in when consumed in balance with the other nutrients. So many people are fat phobic!  They have been brainwashed by the food industry to think that in order to be thin that they must avoid eating fat!  This is not true!  In fact, quite the contrary.


In order to understand fat and your body’s need for it, it is important to know the general composition of our bodies.   In general, the average body is composed of:

  • 60% Water
  • 18% Proteins
  • 15% Fats (We need this fat in order for our bodies to function well!)
  • 4% Minerals
  • 2% Carbohydrates (This shocked me as I pondered just how many living the SAD consume a majority of their nutrients as CARBS – and we are only 2%!)
  • <1% Vitamins

In the average person, fats compose about 15% of their body weight.  People that are obese have way more than this while others who are fat phobic may have way less.   Either way, having too much or not enough is harmful to your health.  Fat serves a lot of important roles for your body, see the last Fat Friday post to be reminded of the important roles of fat.

It is important to know that contrary to popular belief, a fairly high percentage of GOOD HEALTHY FATS are required for optimum health.   In fact, in America, healthy fatty acid deficiency is epidemic!  This causes a myriad of health issues such as:

  • Musculoskeletal issues


  • Endocrine Issues
    • Most hormones require fat in order to be made! Without fats these hormones can’t be made.  This results in endocrine dysfunction and hormone imbalances (i.e. low testosterone).


  • Cardiovascular Issues
    • The idea that in order to have heart healthy diet you need to eat low fat is not true!   Eating low fat/non-fat in general is not good!  Yes, there are fats such as the trans fatty acids, hydrogenated oils & highly processed oils that are very detrimental to our health.


    • However,  the heart is a muscle that actually prefers FAT as a source of energy!  Yes, you read that right!


    • The heart has a very demanding job to pump blood and oxygen throughout your body.  It NEVER takes a vacation!  It has to perform its job every second in order for you to survive.   This type of demand requires good energy and the heart  doesn’t do a good job with a diet high in refined carbs.  You truly need good fats to keep the heart healthy.   Monounsaturated fat  (olive oil/avocados/nut oil) is particularly good for the heart.


  • Immune Issues
    • There is a huge connection between fats and the ability of our immune system to function well.  There is a relationship between appropriate fatty acids and the processes of inflammation.  This can impact our immune system greatly if not balanced well with healthy fats.  Healthy fats help us manage inflammation and aid our body in the healing process.  Cod Liver Oil is wonderful and a great fat to help in particular with inflammation and healing.  A good source can be purchased at  http://www.greenpasture.org/utility/showProduct/index.cfm?objectID=741


  • Allergies, Skin problems
    • You can actually feel deficiency in the skin due to poor fatty acid balance.  Skin that isn’t maintained well with good fat assimilation is dry.  Muscle tone is also very different in fatty acid deficient people.


    • Inflammation and histamine reaction can be managed thoroughly when appropriate fatty acids levels are maintained in the body.


  • Depression and Mental Disorders


As you can see, good and healthy fat consumption is essential to balancing the health of the body.  So, let’s talk about how fats are different and how they are categorized. When thinking about fat, keep in mind that if something is a solid at room temperature it is considered a fat, but if it is liquid at room temperature, it is considered an oil.   Fats are classified according to degree of saturation in their molecule chains.  There are 3 major classifications of fat:  Saturated, Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated.

  • Saturated Fats
    • Highly stable


    • Do not go rancid easily


    •  Store well


    • They are good for cooking and frying


    • Solid or semi-solid at room temp (Coconut oil is saturated and is one exception to this rule=  it can be liquid in warm climates)


    • Considered non-essential technically because the body can make saturated fats from other fats in your body


    • Found in animal fats (eggs, butter, dairy, bacon, lard, tallow) and tropical oil


    • Almost all animal fat to a large degree is considered saturated – but not completely!  Animal fats can also have polyunsaturated fats and essential fatty acids (we need to get these from foods because our body can’t make them) in it


    • Tropical oils like coconut oil and palm kernel oil are the two primary saturated fats that are consumed around the world as part of the human diet.  I get my coconut oil online from Tropical Traditions.  I prefer the Organic Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil because it doesn’t have a coconut taste when used in baking and cooking.   Link to purchase:  http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/virgin_coconut_oil.htm


  • Monounsaturated Fats
    • Relatively stable (although still somewhat sensitive to breakdown when exposed to light and heat)


    • Olive oil has gotten a lot of press over the years due to it’s health benefits.  People who consume Mediterranean-type diets thrive on olive oil.  However, these types of oils (such as olive) do best in COLD uses (like salad dressings) because they are somewhat delicate.


    • Monounsaturated fats are less stable than a saturated fat because they are not as saturated.  The more saturated a fat is the more stable it is and the better it can withstand heat without going rancid or damaging the cellular make-up.   Monounsaturated fats are more stable than Polyunsaturated fats (the next classification).  If you are going to sauté something lightly for a short period of time,  it is acceptable to use Monounsaturated fats (like olive oil) for heating to a mild degree but it is  not good for deep frying or cooking extensively.   It is actually best to throw in some real butter with the olive oil if you are going to use it for cooking because the butter helps protect the molecules of the olive oil.  This is what I do when I want to use a little olive oil for sautéing.


    • Monounsaturated fats do not go rancid easily


    • You can reasonably keep olive oil in a unrefrigerated state as long as it is protected from air and light.  Be sure to purchase an organic cold pressed olive oil contained in a dark glass bottle to protect from light. 


    • Liquid at room temperature


    • Non-essential because the body can make these from the essential fatty acids.  (We’ll get to these on the next classification of Polyunsaturated fats.  Note:  the body can’t make essential fatty acids/polyunsaturated fats – we have to consume them from foods.)


    • Found in olive oil, avocados and nut oils (almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts)  (Reminder:  These are best in COLD uses!)



  • Polyunsaturated Fats
    • Relatively UNSTABLE they get damaged VERY easily


    • We need to treat these oils gently because they are fragile.   When polyunsaturated fats are in food manufacturing, they are altered chemically so that they are stable enough to use in foods for a long period of time.  This altering is NOT good and is often times a TRANS FAT!


    • Polyunsaturated fats do go rancid easily


    • They are always liquid in form


    • Two types of polyunsaturated fats are ESSENTIAL.   It is important to understand in nutrition what essential means.   A fat is essential if:
      1. You can’t live without it
      2. You can’t manufacture it internally within your body – you must get it from your diet = an outside source


    • Linoleic Acid (LA) =  Omega 6  & Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) = Omega 3  oils are the two ESSENTIAL OILS


    • NEVER heat or use these types of oils in cooking.   When heated, these oils are converted into unhealthful oils.  They turn from healthy fats into trans fat and an oxidized state of rancidity.


    • Found in flax, nuts and seeds along with fish oil


    • The Omega 3 and Omega 6 Essential Oils  are very important in our diet in the appropriate quantity.   Remember, these are very fragile oils!  It is a mistake to fry things in polyunsaturated fats!


So, today you have learned about the 3 types of fats, as well as some examples for each type.  You also have learned about how to use these fats in your diet in order to maximize their health benefits!  As we start to uncover more on healthy fats and how your body benefits from them, remember to only use healthy Saturated fats (like real butter, lard, bacon grease and coconut oil) in COOKING  and try to use healthy Monounsaturated fats (like olive oil, avocados, and nut oils) as well as ESSENTIAL Polyunsaturated fats (like fish and flax oils) for COLD uses only!



Happy Fat Friday!!!!

Blessings & health,








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