The Fat Connection: Part 1

Conventional understanding about fats is based upon a mistake. A giant misconception. An error that has greatly benefited the vegetable oil and food processing industries.  Before 1920, heart disease in this country was rare. However, by the 1950′s heart disease was the leading cause of death in America. It still is today. If heart disease is, in fact, related to consumption of fats, we would expect it to be lower, as for the last 30 years we have decreased consumption of saturated fats. However, during this same period, we have greatly increased consumption of polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils, in the form of liquid oils and margarine.

We now know that man made trans fats are to blame for the increases in cardiovascular disease (CVD), but conventional health “experts” are still not getting it. They have acknowledged that trans fats are bad, (New York City has actually banned the use of trans fats in restaurants) but they still go on about saturated fats being unhealthy. Let’s use a little common sense here. How does nature in her  wisdom provide us with food that is bad for us? There is a disconnect here. People shun fats because they have been brainwashed into thinking eating fat makes you fat and causes disease.  Think about it. How did our ancestors, who were certainly eating saturated fats from animals, avoid the high rates of CVD, cancer, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s, etc. that we have in this country today?

I’ll tell you how. They did not eat man made fake fats. And they did eat a lot of naturally occurring saturated fats from all things in nature. That includes fat from the duck, the chicken, the goose, the turkey, the cow, the goat, the pig, the lamb, etc. You get the idea. Importantly, they rendered these fats from animals that were living their natural life in a humane and sustainable environment.

Today we can replicate that by eating animals that are pastured. Fats obtained from pastured animals are natural fats that are part of our physiology. Fifty percent of the brain is fat and cholesterol. All the nerves are coated with a fatty substance called myelin, without which autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis develop. The lungs need a saturated fat called surfactant to line the alveoli, without which, breathing difficulties develop. Without these fats we get sick.

Another aspect of the “low fat” debacle is the recommendation to eat polyunsaturated fatty acids from vegetables. This would include highly refined oils such as soy, corn, cottonseed, and canola. Canola oil is made from rapeseed which is extremely toxin to humans unless it is highly refined. Cottonseed is not even edible by humans until it is again, highly refined. Soy, corn, cottonseed and canola are also the four main genetically modified crops, therefore most of the commercial oil on the market today and used in packaged goods is GMO. Who knows what that is doing to our health.

Clearly, the problems today stem from the fact that people are starving for healthy animal fats. They have been told not to eat them. Instead they have been told to eat man-made, highly refined (think of an industrial oil refinery) oils that are cheap to manufacture, but that are foreign to our physiology. In these refineries, oil is obtained by crushing the seeds and heating them to 230 degrees F. The seeds are then squeezed at pressures of 10 to 20 tons per inch. This generates more heat. During the process the oil is exposed to light and oxygen which is damaging to it’s fragile structure, creating free radicals.  And finally, in order to extract the last 10% of the oil from the seeds, a solvent is used — usually hexane, and up to 100 parts per million of this toxic chemical is allowed to remain in the oil. In addition, all this heating and processing destroys the fat soluble vitamins like vitamin E which are also natural preservatives. Then artificial preservatives like cancer causing BHT and BHA are added. Knowing this, will you ever look at commercial oils the same?

Every cell in our bodies has a membrane that protects it by keeping the toxic elements out and the nutrients in. It is a double layer called a phospholipid membrane. You get the “lipid” part — it is made of fat. More than half of the cell membrane is composed of saturated fat. What happens when there is not enough saturated fat around? The body uses whatever fat is available. If this is trans fat because the person has been eating margarine, that is what will be incorporated into the cell membrane. However, these “fake” fats have a different structure than the saturated fats and this creates breaks in the links of the phospholipid membrane. If the membrane is not sound, because of these unnatural fats, the potential for toxins to get into the cell increases and the potential for nutrients to flow out increases. The membrane is no longer protective. This is a set up for all kinds of diseases including, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases and other diseases of inflammation.

Our USDA prescribed guidelines for low fat consumption is misled and a recipe for disaster and disease. We are living that now. As saturated fat consumption has decreased, heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes has increased in alarming rates. Our children are getting diseases of adulthood, not to mention the epidemic numbers of children on the autistic spectrum. The Solution is to stop buying low fat foods and start to eat real, full fat foods obtained from humanely raised animals the way nature intended. Stay tuned for my next post in The Fat Connection Series.


Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig

Fat, An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan

This post is linked to; Gluten-free Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Frugal Food Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Food Trip Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Fight Back Friday, Friday Favorites, Fat Camp Friday, Fun With Food Friday, Midnight Maniac Monday, Monday Mania. Meatless Monday, Mouthwatering Monday, Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods, Tasty Tuesday, What’s On The Menu

  • Connie

    I do not disagree with you in regards to fats and this post, but something you wrote, “How does Nature in her wisdom provide us with food that is bad for us?” struck me.

    As someone who is trying to eat healthy and who is getting horribly confused by all the condradictory messages out there, this irritates me. Even you are sending contradictory messages, because while in this post you are clear, in another you (ok maybe not you, because I haven’t read every single post but since you are linking to Nourishing Traditions, I’m going to assume) say that some foods are not OK to eat as they are and need to be “processed” aka soaked or fermented.

    The more I read whole food type blogs, the more confused I become which is a real shame. The only thing you all seem to agree on is that leafy greans are good, but even then there is disagreement on if they should be cooked or raw.

    I’m sorry, this is coming off more venting then this wonderful post deserves, I guess that line set me off more then I knew.

  • Jill

    Hi Connie,
    Don’t worry about the venting. I do it all the time. I can appreciate your confusion, because there is so much information out there and so many points of view. Nourishing Traditions is the backbone for the philosophy of the Weston Price Foundation. And yes, I do follow that viewpoint. That is definitely where I am coming from. However, the Primal viewpoint is similar, especially when it comes to fats, and I am sure there are other similar viewpoints. Importantly, the information on fats is based on the biochemistry of fat composition and how fats are metabolized in the human body, as well as the realities of our food processing industry today. The other information about “processing” certain foods (soaking/fermenting) is information that has been handed down through the ages as “common knowledge” if you will. Unfortunately, this common knowledge has been lost to many people, because of the advent of commercial food processing which does not care about the nutrient content and availability of the food they are producing/processing. It is the mission of the Weston Price Foundation to bring this knowledge back to us so that we can enjoy the better health that our ancestors had. I hope this helps a little. There is a huge learning curve when it comes to Real Food and it takes a long time to incorporate all the aspects of improving your diet. Start with Simple Steps.

    Please stay in touch!

  • Danielle @ Analytical Mom

    Connie raises such an interesting point. It makes me wonder, was there perhaps a time in our history when humans could eat seeds and nuts without soaking them? I know gorillas have extra-long large intestines to process (and ferment, with all that good bacteria) roughage. Before humans started eating grains in mass quantities, is it possible that our digestive systems had plenty of good bacteria to break down the small amount of nuts/seeds we did eat?
    Jill, what is are your thoughts on this?

  • Jill

    Hi Danielle,
    Actually, I think people traditionally always prepared the nuts and seeds with soaking. In Nourishing Traditions, Sally talks about the Aztecs and how they soaked the pumpkin and squash seeds in brine and dried them in the sun. Today we do it in an oven or dehydrator, but the reason to do this is to reduce the amount of phytic acid in the nuts. Also, “soaking in salt water activates enzymes that neutralize enzyme inhibitors.”(p.512) This preparation increases the digestibility of nuts. It is the nature of nuts to be hard to digest…otherwise they would not be readily stored as they can be.I hope this answers your interesting question!

  • Abbi

    So what about Olive Oil? Is this the best kind of oil/butter to use?

  • Jill

    Hi Abbi,
    Olive oil is great. It is a monounsaturated fat which is very healthy. I would get the extra virgin olive oil (organic if possible). However, I would not use it for high heat cooking. It is best used for salads and low heat, like sautéing garlic on a low heat. Each fat has it’s own best application. Animal fats, like lard (not hydrogenated (lard from a pastured pig), tallow from a pastured cow and other animal fats are good for high heat cooking because the fat stands up to the heat and does not get oxidized. Oxidized fat is unhealthy because is creates free radicals. I will be posting about this in the next part of “The Fat Connection”.

  • Miz Helen

    Hi Jill,
    This is a very interesting post and a debate that most likely needs to happen. I like to present a healthy balance on my table, so far that is working. I do like to eat out of my Grandmothers plates at least twice a week, they are much smaller than the average plate we have today which look more like a platters. Thank you for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and I look forward to Part 2 next week.

  • Jill

    Hi Miz Helen,
    Thank you for your kind words. Portion size is certainly something to think about. I will have Part 2 sometime soon!

  • MommyLES

    olive oil is great i like using it.

    btw, please vote for Noobfoodie under Blog category and our Mike Mamaril the Site developer/designer of Noobfoodie under Personal category
    Cast your vote at PhilWebAwards. thank you



    so many good points being discussed here. most diets now are really more confusing, dieters ended up eating more.
    i guess, what we need to do to avoid foods that may contribute diseases: the more natural the food, the better, this does not mean, RAW…just avoid the word “processed”, because chemicals can alter the nutrients.

  • domestic {cherry}

    i try to stay away from unhealthy fats and use healthy oils such olive and canola.

    here’s my entry:

  • Jill

    Hi Cherry,
    True,, olive oil is healthy, but canola is not. It is a highly refined oil made from rapeseed which is extremely toxic — it has to be highly refined in order for humans to be able to consume it. We do not recommend it at all, even though it is touted as healthy by the USDA. In addition, it is genetically modified. I would avoid it.

  • Wendy

    I agree with Connie that there is so much contradictory information out there, and everyone thinks their way is the best way.
    The Raw Foodies, the Vegans/Vegetarians/ the Nourishing Traditions followers, the Heart Association…

    I just don’t know what to believe. All of the various schools of thought have studies to back them up. My nutritionist (who I started seeing after being diagnosed with fructose intolerance), says I need to eat less fat, but more calories.

    with this new restriction in my diet (I also can’t eat gluten), I’m even more confused.

    I focus on natural foods, that are sustainable, organic, local, and ethically raised. With out gluten, and on a very strict fructose reduction diet.

    So what do you think of grapeseed oil?

    Thanks, and sorry about the rant.

  • Jill

    Hi Imriz,
    Yes, the less processed, the better.

  • Jill

    Hi Wendy,
    It is true, there is much controversy about fats. I will be writing more about this topic. I am coming from the viewpoint of the Weston Price Foundation and I believe that fats are very important — we just need to eat the correct fats. Animal fats from pastured and humanely treated animals are very important. With oils, you have to be careful not to eat those oils that are high in omega 6 fatty acids. Grapeseed oil is high in omega 6 fatty acids so I would use it sparingly. Thanks for your comments.

  • melanie

    How about coconut oil? I eat mostly vegan, so although I really agree with you about eating natural saturated fats, I try to keep the animal fats to a minimum and so use coconut oil a great deal. The saturated fats in coconut oil are medium-chain fatty acids and this is important because they are not stored in the cells as fat, but taken directly to the liver and burned as energy. I’m not a expert on any of this – so I’d love to hear what you have to say about it. Love your article and look forward to more.

  • Jill

    Hi Melanie,
    You pretty much have it correct about the coconut oil. I use it extensively — even drink it in shakes and use it for baking and pan sauteing. I would get the unrefined coconut oil. I will be writing more about coconut oil in the future.

  • Claire

    @Wendy going off gluten/fructose makes me feel very good and lose weight. I gave up all grains except for the occasional serving of rice.(rice is a very neutral grain anti-nutrient wise)

    Not sure why your doc wants you to eat less fat too. You could get the extra calories he wants you to with fat and if you eat good fats: coconut, animal, butter, and you will not be hungry and be tempted by fructose and grains. I just don’t see how you can do the no fructose/gluten with out some added fat to help with satiety.

    Just to give you more of my story. My lipid panel was much improved just 4 weeks after giving up sugar and grains and industrial oils. 10 point gain in good cholesterol (69 now) and triglycerides down from 125 to 66! And I ate all the animal fat and butter and cream I needed to stay away from grains and sugar.

    Good luck:) Claire

  • Jill

    Hi Claire,
    I agree with your thoughts on fats. Some (many) folks are
    still guided by the misinformation they have been given about fats. They are critical for healing, but you have to be eating the correct fats. I will be posting more about this later in the week.

  • Mama J

    Found your site via Mangia Monday- love all your information! I’m a new follower on Facebook. Have a great day. :)

  • Jill

    Hi Mama J,
    Thanks so much!

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  • shar

    olive oil

    I had this all ready, and somehow, lost it, closed the page or something silly.

    beware of olive oil, know the producer,
    more lucrative than cocaine, so they mix in the bad oils, and it is impossible to detect. Ship leaves port with canola, arrives with olive oil to the bottler…. I trust my coop to tell me who is reliable. Like those from my own country, a farm that has a stake in it.

    I had sites for you, but it even happens here as we do not have regulations, so two issues, one, olive oil masks the impostors and two, US has no regulations or at least not enough to cover this fraud.

    sad to spend money for olive oil and not get it, when you know you don;t want the bad stuff.

    sorry for a negative ninny report, more of business as usual for those who are dishonest!

  • Jill

    Hi Shar,
    Yes, I know about this fraud. One way to know if your bottle of olive oil is really olive oil, is to put it in the refrigerator. It will harden in a day or so. Soy or canola will not do that.

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  • Susan

    What about grapeseed oil? Really, over the past 30 some odd years , they food industry has really flip flopped! Eat this, don’t eat that… Do this, don’t do that…! And I certainly don’t trust the USDA to tell me something is organic. I need a 3rd party.

  • Jill

    Hi Susan,
    Grapeseed oil is high in omega 6 fatty acids so it is not preferred.

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