We’ve all heard the saying that you need some fat in your diet whilst simultaneously being told that fat causes health issues that can lead to an early grave. It’s enough contradiction to conjure nightmares of the chicken vs. the egg for some, but there’s a simple answer.
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“Nature doesn’t make unhealthy fats, humans do,” says nutrition coach Max Lugavere. In his latest Instagram analysis, the NYT best-seller author of Genius Foods explains that the definition of a good fat involves:
- Chemical stability
- Minimal processing
- The presence of beneficial compounds other than fat
Examples of these good fat foods are often found int he supermarket. Think extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, avocados, the fat in fatty fish (wild salmon, sardines, mackerel), grass-fed beef, omega-3 or pasture raised eggs, coconut oil and MCT oil (supplement often added to smoothies, bulletproof coffee and salad dressings).
On the other side of the coin we have the bad fats. The common properties of bad fats are:
- Chemical instability
- Trans fats
- Skewed omega-6 to omega-3 ratios
- Heat and chemical extraction
Foods that contain bad fats are also commonplace and they’re usually used to prepare the foods we indulge in most. Bad fats come in the form of canola oil, grapeseed oil, corn oil, soy oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, rapeseed oil and commercial salad dressings.
Lugavere says that these fats are all highly processed and all contain significant levels of trans fats (up to 5%). He references a Havard study on canola oil by Dr. Guy Crosby which explains that “canola oil does contain very low levels of trans-fat, as do all oils that have been deodorised. Deodorization is the final step in refining ALL vegetable oils.”
The most important point to take away from this is that the dosage of bad fats makes all the difference. In micro quantities which is measured, bad fat fat consumption is safe. “But unfortunately when it comes to cooking and packaged foods, the quantities in question are macro, not micro,” says Lugavere.
The effects of trans fat consumption has been linked to early death and more interestingly, memory loss. In an American health study from 2015, it was found that on average, men aged 45 and younger recalled 86 words. For each additional gram of trans fats consumed daily, performance dropped by 0.76 words.