Good Fats Versus Bad Fats

Not all fats are equal and some should be avoided.

Good Fats Versus Bad Fats
Photo by Roberta Sorge / Unsplash

By looking at the percentages of what your macros should be for the keto diet (75% fat, 20% protein, 5% carbs) you can see that the focus is on fats. But you need to know that it's important to incorporate healthy fats into your diet and not just any fats. This is one of the most common misconceptions about a low carb/keto lifestyle - that you can just eat whatever and however much fat you want. Not true.

Trans fats need to be avoided. Trans fats are formed through chemical food processing with high temperature, pressure, and solvents. Do we want food made with solvents? This is one reason why avoiding processed food and eating real food is an important thing to do. Thankfully trans fats are being reduced from our food supply so it’s not as rampant in our food anymore but it does still exist. If you’re eating low carb and avoiding processed foods, you’ll naturally reduce or eliminate these foods but it’s still important to check the food label.

Another type of fat that should be limited is omega-6 fats. We do need a little of this so this one but not in the quantities it is consumed in our country today. Omega-3 and omega-6 fats should be eaten at about a 1:1 ratio but instead they’re consumed on average at a 20:1 ratio in favor of omega-6 fats.

The predominant way these are consumed is in the form of vegetable oils - predominately soybean oil but other examples are corn oil, cottonseed oil, and safflower oil. Did you know the original version of vegetable oils were used to lubricate machinery? Do we really want to be eating something that was used for that originally? Anyway, the process to make these oils, like I mentioned with trans fats, is to use high temperature, high pressure, solvents, and even bleaching to turn this into “food.” And then it has to be deodorized because it smells so bad! Why would we want to eat that? It’s toxic to us and needs to be eliminated from our diet.

If you look at labels you’ll see that there are a lot of foods made with soybean oil or some type of vegetable oil. Things that have a long shelf life typically have these oils added. Just a few of the most common foods that you might not realize are just dressed up vegetable oil:

  • Coffee creamer - the first ingredient is probably vegetable oil, soybean oil, or hydrogenated vegetable oil. Yuck. Choose heavy whipping cream instead and the first ingredient is cream - exactly what you’re trying to buy.
  • Mayonnaise - soybean oil is the first ingredient on many - choose one made with avocado oil like Primal Kitchen or Sir Kensington’s - both have avocado oil as the main ingredient. And don’t be misled by the “olive oil” mayo that’s right alongside the regular mayo - if you look at the ingredients it’s still vegetable oil first. Good quality mayo will be a lot more expensive so you’ll know if it’s real or not - but it’s worth it.
  • Salad dressing - again, the first ingredient is probably soybean oil. Read the label and find good ones like Primal Kitchen brand where the first ingredient is avocado oil - a healthy oil.
  • Margarine and spreads that mimic butter - this is all just soybean oil or vegetable oil. Choose real butter instead. If you can get grass-fed or organic even better. Ghee and coconut oil are good options as well.

So why do we need to avoid these? These fats contribute to increased risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • diabetes (type 2)
  • cancer
  • Alzheimers
  • raising bad cholesterol and lowering good cholesterol
  • high triglycerides (which leads to heart disease)
  • inflammation (which is the root cause of many diseases)
  • insulin resistance (which contributes to many diseases and also weight gain)

So we want to choose healthy fats and reduce trans fats and omega-6 fats from unhealthy sources. If you’re getting your omega-6 from healthy foods like walnuts, hemp seeds, or avocados that’s okay but just say no to all things vegetable oil. Some good, healthy oils to choose to replace those nasty vegetable oils are coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, and MCT oil. Your body and your health will thank you.

Again, just make sure you read the nutrition labels and look to see what kind of fat it is. If it says vegetable oil (soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil) just say no. And your best bet - eat real food...things that haven't been heavily processed. When you take the processing out and you choose real food, you eliminate the chance that something toxic could have been added.