What is a healthy fat?

In our practice, we recommend eating a lot of healthy fats. Read on for what healthy fats are and scroll down to the bottom to see more resources about fat.

When we are talking about healthy fats within our clinic and on this blog, we are talking about saturated fat, primarily from animal sources. This means things like butter, sour cream, egg yolks, lard, tallow, and duck fat. In our culture, we talk about healthy fats as being nut or seed oils like flax seed oil, olive oil, or canola oil. The problem is those fats are not stable. This can cause problems in our bodies. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

Let’s talk about the very basics of a cell structure so that we have an understanding of what they do. A healthy cell has a few different components. The biggest component to a cell is the phospholipid membrane. The phospholipid membrane is a collection of  molecules, which are in the phosphate family, and fatty acid chains. Fat is hydrophobic which means it does not like water.  The inside of the cell is water, the outside of the cell is water, and we need the fat in the middle to make the membrane. We also have cell receptors which rely on fat. Whether the cell is communicating to another cell or as some people theorize the cell membranes themselves are sensing the outside world, if we have unhealthy fats making up our phospholipid membrane, we will have unhealthy cells. 

Watch the video to learn more about the way our cells work with fat!

We all eat rancid fat sometimes. One type of rancid fats is trans fats. The problem comes when we primarily eat rancid fats because the body has no choice but to make molecules that are misshapen. This means that maybe our cells communication doesn’t work because they can’t touch each other because their shapes don’t line up. They don’t have as much function because of their damaged fat molecules. They don’t have as many receptor sites because they’re damaged and so these cells become less sensitive to neurotransmitters and hormones telling the cell what to do. The really big problem comes when the cell stops listening to anything outside of itself and starts replicating within itself as a cell grouping. This is what cancer is – a cell inside our bodies that doesn’t talk to the rest of our body. 

Good healthy fats are stable, saturated fats like

  • Lard from Pigs
  • Tallow from Beef or Lamb or Other Animals
  • Coconut Oil or Palm Seed Oil *
  • Olive Oil*
  • Butter* 

If you don’t know what to buy, stick with tallow and lard!

*Coconut oil and palm seed oil can be stable saturated fats but they can also be processed with high heat or a chemical which makes them rancid.

*The other rule of thumb is when a fat smokes, it is starting to turn rancid. So olive oil could be fine but if it starts smoking, you are oxidizing it and changing the structure. Olive oil should be eaten cold. Tallow and lard will not become smokey or burn.

* Butter is a stable saturated fat except that it’s much more easy to burn butter. It has a lower smoke point which means it’s going to turn rancid easier.

For more information on how fat plays a role in our bodies, check out these other resources.

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