What is a healthy fat?

How to choose the best form of dietary fat for longevity.

Dr. Houtan with cooking fats

Fats are one of our “macronutrients”, the other two of which are proteins and carbohydrates. All three are necessary components of our diets as humans. Every single cell membrane in your body, every sex hormone, and a tremendous number of other biomolecules require dietary fat in order to function properly.

We should all be eating healthy fats, but what exactly is a “healthy” fat anyway? There’s been a lot of bad science around this topic, and even more bad nutritional advice over the past few decades.

We’ve been told that polyunsaturated fats are “healthy” while saturated fats are “unhealthy”. What does that mean? In chemistry, “saturation” refers to the number of double bonds that a fatty acid has. Essentially, this is how stable or unstable it is, especially in regards to being heated. Unsaturated fats are less stable (i.e. liquid at room temperature) and saturated fats are more stable (i.e. solid at room temperature).

This topic is involved, so in the interest of time I’ll make it simple: ingest fats that are stable and less likely to be damaged, because that damage becomes a part of you.

Remember the old adage, “you are what you eat”? If you eat spoiled oils, you make inferior cells and inferior hormones. Instead, eat stable fats like butter, ghee, tallow, lard, duck fat, etc that are much less likely to become oxidized (at room temperature or during cooking). Of course these sources should always be the highest quality you can find: organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed/finished, etc. Most importantly, avoid seed oils like the plague! They are highly processed (to an unsettling degree) and oxidize very quickly so that by the time you’ve consumed them, you’ve consumed a highly damaged, oxidized product.

Seed oils are in my view, and the view of many other practitioners who aren’t swayed by propaganda, one of the most deleterious dietary concoctions of our time. I avoid them like my life depends on it, because it does. I try to ask waiters to cook my food with butter instead of other oils when we eat out at a restaurant, because you better believe that 99% of food establishments use cheap seed oils as opposed to nourishing animal fat.

Always remember Dr. Houtie's mantra for longevity: remove toxicity, improve nutrient status. If you remove noxious oils from your diet, you're already halfway towards establishing better physiology.

Stand up for your health. Choose wisely. Eat healthy fats.

*Disclaimer: None of this is medical advice. This is for editorial and educational purposes only.*

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