Enjoy Traditional Fats

The quick answer: Enjoy traditional fats.  They're good for you and make everything taste better.


The War Against Saturated Fats

America got itself into a crazy mess regarding fats.  In a misguided attempt to reduce heart disease, influential scientists vilified saturated fats—like butter and lard—despite millennia of safe use.   The newly invented polyunsaturated fats—found in seed oils—were wrongfully hyped as the cure.  It made a good business but these refined oils were bad medicine.

Europeans, by contrast, chose to stay with traditional fats.  The French, despite their creamy sauces and butter, largely avoided heart disease.  In recent decades, heart disease in southern Europe has declined to even lower levels as prosperity put more saturated fats on the dinner table.

There is painful irony in our anti-saturated fat experiment:  In attempting to solve a problem, we made it worse.  When we reduced saturated fats, we replaced them with hydrogenated seed oils and sugar, both now implicated as causes of heart disease.  Worse, we sowed the seeds of two additional epidemics: overweight and type 2 diabetes.  It’s a big fat mess.

For the definitive story of how we went wrong on fats, read Gary Taubes' N. Y. Times article "What If It's All Been A Big Fat Lie?"

High-Oleic Seed Oils

For years seed oils were falsely promoted as healthy because they were polyunsaturated and certain polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and -6) are essential to life.  Unfortunately, omega-3s are reactive to oxygen when refined so don't keep well.  To extend shelf life they were removed by hydrogenation.  The resulting trans fats were a health disaster. 

To reduce the need for hydrogenation, seed plants are being modified through GMO (genetically modified organism) and other techniques to reduce polyunsaturated fats.  Given names like “high oleic” oil, many food products now use these new oils and products made from them proudly carry the “zero trans fats” banner. But are these modified oils healthy enough for long-term use?  Though the FDA allows their use, some observers are uncomfortable.  After all, the FDA so far still allows the sale of food with trans fats though it is reconsidering their use.  In time we may know, but for now here are some concerns with high-oleic oils:

1. About ninety percent of the soybean and corn crops are GMO per reports.  The long-term healthiness of consuming GMOs is a hotly debated but unsettled issue.  In Europe GMOs are generally not allowed.

2. The new “high oleic” varieties are low in omega-3, and have an unhealthy omega 6:3 ratio.

3. Seed oils are refined using chemical solvents like hexane (a hazardous pollutant per the EPA) plus heat exposure (during hexane recovery, bleaching, and deodorization) that can harm the nature of the fats. 

Though approved by the FDA, we cannot be sure about the long-term healthiness of these oils.  My plan is to follow the “century rule” and not eat recently invented factory fats (or edible oils as the industry likes to call them).

Healthy Changes

Healthy Change #28:  Enoy traditional fats like butter and olive oil.  Mankind enjoyed them for millenia before the modern heart disease epidemic.

Please comment:  Share your thoughts about fat.  After all the false promotion, it will take time for people to enjoy eating fats again.  But you need them as nutrients plus make everything taste better.

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Reader Comments (11)

I always assumed sunflower seed oil was fine. The seeds are certainly oily so it seems extracting the oil should be a simple process. I guess I need to read more about sunflower seed oil.

July 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermel

I mostly use coconut oil and butter, but use olive oil and palm oil on occasion. I quit using vegetable/seed oils about 10 years ago when my mother died of breast cancer. She taught us a few things that she learned in trying to overcome cancer, and using good oils was one of those things. I am so glad I did, while my children were still very young.

August 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I was just linking this blog to a Facebook group I'm in and realized there haven't been posts in a while. I hope all is well!

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

I too have always thought that sunflower oil was one of the better ones! I don't use a lot of oil, but prefer to use this for cooking as I thought that heating olive oil to high temperatures changed its healthful benefits.

Anyway, I see that this blog has come to a close but I wanted to add my comments just in case. I will continue to delve back into the archives and enjoy your excellent writing!

Thank you, Skip.

January 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichaela

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April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDevPatel

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April 6, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterkiran

Nice post...

My Friendship Day

April 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMy Friendship Day

So nice to see fellow Latter-day Saints embrace healthy fats. It makes me sad to think that for decades, even articles in the Ensign warned us about saturated fat and cholesterol (including two in the same edition within the last year), and one in the 70's even recommended lowering your cholesterol using margarine. I had to turn outside of the LDS community, to the Weston A. Price Foundation, to find out how to live the Word of Wisdom in a way that was best for my body. Maybe the tide is turning.

June 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Excellent put up, very informative. I wonder why the opposite experts of this sector do not understand this. You must proceed your writing. I’m confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

August 11, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterxnxx

Love the post! What about margarine? I'm just getting started with researching what's most healthy and in line with the word of wisdom, so what do you recommend when it comes to type of butter?

October 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

seems like you didn't update since 2014 . i had problem with fat belly . i got inspired here Word of Wisdom

November 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterWord of Wisdom

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