What Are the (Actual) Healthy Fats?

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Fat in particular still seems to be a topic of confusion and misunderstanding. And this is not surprising, as we have been fed a lot of conflicting, biased, and incorrect “information,” particularly since the 1950s (thank you Ancel Keys…) regarding which fats are good for you and which fats are bad for you. 

We could spend all day talking about this topic, but for today’s purpose, it’s important for you to be aware of which fats are best, which are okay in moderate amounts, and which fats to avoid. 

How much fat you’re eating does of course matter, what I usually term “fat ratios,” but the starting place before the amount of fat is the type and source of the fat you’re eating. 

Healthy fats are a critical piece to reaching or maintaining optimal health, energy, performance, fitness results, and a healthy life. And yes, the right fats even when eaten in what some might consider to be a “high fat” diet not only help with weight loss, but can also be an important piece to preventing or healing diseases, including cardiovascular disease!

In fact, to give you an idea of just how crucial the right kind of fats are, a large study published in the Lancet compared over 135k people in 18 countries and found that people on the low-fat diet had greater risk of heart attack and heart disease and were more likely to die from any cause. Eeek!

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)32252-3/fulltext

While the right kind of fats are protective and essential, the bad fats (usually this means the man-altered fats of our day) are outrageously damaging to health and weight management. 

One of the most effective places you can put your energy in regard to your health, fitness goals, weight management, and overall quality of life is to improve or optimize your fat intake. Unrefined, natural fats are essential, so don’t be afraid to consume them liberally, and yes this includes the saturated fat that many are still afraid to eat. 


The list below indicates the healthy fats, the unhealthy fats, and the ones that are best to consume more in moderation. The best fats for cooking are the ones listed in the “green” column. Aim to use the healthiest fats at home in your cooking, and always first look at the ingredient label of a food item to start being aware of which fats are being used. It might surprise you which products contain these sneaky unhealthy oils.

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Good Fats (Enjoy Liberally) Okay (Moderate Use) Bad Fats (Avoid)
Butter (100% grass-fed is best) Ghee Canola oil (even organic, etc.)
Tallow FRESH 100% extra virgin olive oil Olive oil 
Lard Peanut oil unrefined Commercial grapeseed oil 
Pure rendered animal fat (i.e turkey, chicken, duck, etc. lard) Avocado oil + avocado Commercial sunflower oil
FRESH + wild fatty fish/fish oil Cold-pressed grapeseed oil Commercial safflower oil 
(Grass-fed) fatty meats Cold-pressed sunflower oil Commercial rice bran oil
Coconut oil Cold-pressed safflower oil Soybean oil 
Whole seeds + seed butter Cold-pressed rice bran oil Margarine
Pastured full-fat dairy Sesame seed oil Hydrogenated oil (trans fat)
Cream Fresh flaxseed oil unrefined Commercial corn oil 
Red palm fruit oil (crude) Cold-pressed corn oil (non-gmo) Cottonseed oil 
Egg Yolk Commercial full-fat dairy Refined palm 
Cocoa butter Nuts and nut butters Fake butter spreads
Traditional bone broth Unrefined palm kernel oil Fake dairy
MCT oil Margarine
Raw nuts Shortening
MCT oil powder

Oil Processing Type Cheat Sheet

How a fat or oil is processed makes a massive difference in how healthy or toxic it is. This guide gives you a basic idea of which fat processing types are best and which are the worst. 

Cold pressed oil (aka pressed, crude)
Artisanal oil 
100% Virgin, extra virgin (vegetable) oil Not all olive oil is “green” even when 100% extra virgin
100% Expeller pressed oil  Excluding canola (cottonseed) and soybean oils (always is “orange” or “red”)
Expeller pressed oil Not “100%” expeller pressed
Refined oil
“Sunflower,” “safflower,” “soybean” etc. oil When just the vegetable oil is listed, typically always means commercially refined

HI, I'M BREE!

YOUR High Energy Fitness & Performance Coach! I’m here to help you maximize your performance, health, and happiness through how you move your body, and the fuel you feed it.

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