Good Fats — Should We Believe The Hype?
Fat’s effect on your health and weight is a confusing topic. Some medical professionals still preach low-fat diets, others say “fats are great – the real culprit is sugar.” Others say, “it depends on the fat.”
Even recently, an article came out saying coconut oil (the darling of the “good fat” community and often a primary ingredient in MCT oil) can negatively affect cholesterol and heart health. This generated lots of defensive responses from integrative MD’s and Naturopaths – mostly along the lines of “the good effects of most fats and oils outweigh the bad.”
My take on the debate:
- Moderate ‘good fat’ intake is good for many, but not all. It depends.
- Ask your doctor to check your cholesterol, insulin, glucose and liver markers every three to six months if you increase good fat intake. We’ll define what those ‘good fats’ are in this article.
- Your genes, weekly sugar consumption, how much you exercise (or don’t), and the health of your liver can make these supposed ‘good fats’ not so good for you.
- If you already suffer from high cholesterol, reduce sugar first, increase exercise (very important), then proceed with caution when increasing good fats.
- If you have any form of poor liver function, do not increase these fats unless you are eliminating sugars and all processed foods from your diet.
So, what is a ‘Good Fat’?
Butter, coconut oil, seed oils, olive oil, fish oil, and the fats found in full fat Greek yogurt are examples of good fat. Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil is also a beneficial source.
MCT Oil is coconut based and is an excellent source of ‘good fat.’ MCT Oil can be particularly beneficial as it:
- Bypasses the process of being broken down in the small intestines, and simply absorb in the intestines and go directly to the liver where it easily burns into energy
- Is a medium chain fat (meaning its string of carbon is between 6 and 12 molecules in length) and turns into energy much more quickly than other forms of fat
- Actively suppresses a hunger hormone called ghrelin – though be careful here – this benefit is lost if you couple the oil with a high or even moderately high sugar intake
- Has strong antibacterial/microbial/fungal properties when used externally and ingested. Bottom line – it’s good for immunity
- Reduces belly fat over time (I have seen this in patients)
So if you have healthy cholesterol ratios (HDL to LDL), liver numbers, you exercise regularly, and your sugar intake is moderate (that number has to include the grams found in juices as well) there are some very real benefits to including good oils such as MCT and seed oils such as sesame, avocado, and coconut in your diet.
I’ve seen quite a few patients increase these good fats and actually lose weight (they reduced carbs and sugars at the same time in addition to exercising – that’s critical). They feel more energetic, think more clearly, and even sleep better.
MCT Oil Dosing Considerations:
- If you want to start to consume regularly, start slowly as I have seen some have mild digestive issues at first
- Start with 1 TSP once daily, preferably combined with food, if you don’t experience GI symptoms (bloating, upset), gradually work your way up in a few days.
- Your liver may not be able to process that quantity of fat so quickly therefore dumping some of it back into the intestines causing loose stool and stomach upset. If you experience upset, stay at the previous dose for a few days or stop.
- Increasing fiber intake when you increase fats – aim for 25 grams fiber for every TBSP of oil.
- 1 TBSP a per day is enough to reap the study supported benefits.
- Be wary of taking at night as it can increase alertness.
MCT Oil Buying and Usage Guidelines
Buy organic, virgin, unrefined, & cold-pressed when possible & remember to store your oils in the fridge away from direct sunlight in preferably dark opaque glass bottles.
What Are Other ‘Good Fats’?
Seed oils are an excellent source of good fat nutrition. Here is a list of the most beneficial.
- Sesame Oil
- Walnut Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Pumpkin Oil
- Hazelnut Oil
- Pecan Oil
- Olive Oil
- Pistachio Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Coconut Oil
- MCT Oil
*Note: All oils should be cold-pressed. That is important as heat denatures oils – not good.
Easy Ways to Up Your Intake of Good Fats
You can easily incorporate MCT and seed oils into your daily routine by doing any of the following suggestions:
- Simply eat a spoonful.
- Sip in coffee or tea.
- Drink in a smoothie.
- Drizzle on a soup, as a topping.
- Cook with them, up to 320 degrees (mind the heat for MCT oil specifically).
- Use in salad dressings.
Delicious Recipes to Increase Good Fat Intake
Here are some of our favorite recipes to get you eating, and enjoying, those good fats. Full recipes provided in the links. Happy cooking!
- Fat Balls by Lee from America. We recommend adding in fine pink Himalayan salt to the recipe, to taste.
- Bulletproof Coffee by Bulletproof. A great way to get good fats into your morning routine.
- Avocado & Coconut Ice Pops, by Avocado Central. We recommend adding in 1-2 TBSP of both coconut oil and MCT oil into this recipe. These taste delicious and are FULL of healthy fats!