My Thoughts on Fat

Fat sure has been given a bad name over the last few decades. I used to stay away from it like the plague, because fat makes you gain fat right?!

Well, not so much.

I used to avoid fat like it would be the death of me. And then I had my cholesterol checked only to find that at 23, I had extremely high cholesterol. So high that if I had been older, they would have put me on statins right away. My ‘bad’ cholesterol was through the roof, and it scared the living daylights out of me – especially since heart disease was in my family. I wouldn’t touch anything that had saturated fat in it; buying low fat cheese {gross!} and fake animal products instead. For six months I ate nasty tasting food trying to get my cholesterol down. And to show for it? It worked.

A little bit.

A couple years later, after trying unsuccessfully to stick to a no-fat diet, I found traditional foods, and began to throw away my vegetable oils and margarine. I bought full fat yogurt and milk, and began eating more red meat. {Todd was thrilled!} After years of me telling him he was going to die eating all that full fat stuff, I was now touting it as healthy.

But was it?

Well, I had my cholesterol checked again and after about 6 months on a whole foods diet, my cholesterol was at 168, down from 258 where it was at my very first blood draw.{I was also ovulating regularly for the first time} I felt better than I had in a long time…..fat is here to stay in my diet!

Luckily the popular decision on fat is slowly swinging back to the positive aspects of fat, it’s not all that bad!

Consuming fat in our foods in actually really important for hormone balance, and cholesterol is needed to produce progesterone. We need it for our bodies to work correctly, for our brains to function properly, and to reproduce. Did you know that when Native American couples had trouble conceiving that they put them on bear fat diets.

Supposedly it always worked.

The problem is, there are a lot of bad fats out there too. Fats that contribute to disease and degeneration of our bodies, and are over processed. They are also high in omega 6 fats, which cause us to have way to much omega 6 and not enough omega 3’s, causing inflammation and health problems.

The Good Fats

The following are the fats that I use in my kitchen. They are made from whole foods and minimally processed. It’s also important to note that any animal fats should be organic! Toxins are commonly stored in fat cells, so the cleaner the animal, the cleaner the fat.

Butter – most commonly made from the cream of cows milk, but can also be made from goat or sheep milk, butter offers many needed nutrients. For thousands of years, butter was prized for it’s health benefits! It has an easily absorbable form of vitamin A which is essential to thyroid function. Organic butter is best due to the fact that some toxins can accumulate in the fat cells of animals. Raw butter is even better (pasteurization can damage nutrients), and cultured raw butter is the best you can find!

I make my own butter when I have access to extra cream. And time. Next I try to buy grassfed butter (Kerrygold is good), and then finally organic. I rarely ever buy regular butter due to the fact that toxins are stored in fat – so toxins from a cow’s diet can end up in the butter.

Lard (or pork fat) – was widely used in America during the turn of the 21st century, but has fallen out of favor as the low fat diet has gained in popularity. A good source of vitamin D, lard is also high in monounsaturated fats. It’s solid at room temp and one of the preferred fats for frying due to it’s high smoke point. You can render your own lard if you get the excess fat when you buy a portion of beef from the butcher. Organic lard is hard for me to find, so I don’t use it very often.

Tallow (beef fat) – like lard, tallow is high in monounsaturated fats and when grass fed is also a great source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) an important anti-cancer property. Tallow is solid at room temp and it’s a great fat for use in frying.

Poultry fat – (duck, goose, chicken) semi-solid at room temperature, poultry fat is about 50% monounsaturated. The omega 3 fats available depend on what the bird has eaten and may vary. Good for use in cooking and frying. I tend to skim off the fat when I make broth out of a pastured chicken and use it for cooking.

Olive oil – rich in anti-oxidants, olive oil should be purchased as ‘extra virgin’. This slightly cloudy oil is made from the first pressing of the olives. Use olive oil in salad dressing and low temperature cooking.

Coconut oil – solid when stored at less than 76 degrees, this tropical oil has many health benefits. It can help improve insulin secretion and the utilization of blood glucose, provides quick energy (the medium chain fatty acids), and helps to boost the immune system. Always look for extra virgin coconut oil, though it will have a slight coconut flavor. I find it works wonderfully in baking due to it’s slightly sweet flavor, allowing me to lower the amount of sugar I use in a recipe.

Peanut oil – a relatively stable oil for use on a limited basis for stir-frys (it has a rather high ratio of omega 6 fats).

Sesame oil – like peanut oil, it weighs heavier on the omega 6 side of the scale, but can be used on a limited basis for stir frys.

Flaxseed oil – with a high level of omega 3 fats in flaxseed oil, this oil is fine on a limited basis and in small amounts. Best for salads. (may be slightly estrogenic)

The way I use fats in my kitchen is also based on their source. I regularly use animal fats in heated applications, reserving the more fragile oils like extra virgin olive oil and flax oil for unheated preparations like dressings.

The fats I don’t use consist of margarine, vegetable oils (soy, corn, canola), and anything hydrogenated.

Fats from good healthy sources can be a wonderful addition to your diet. Not only do the fats themselves add nutrients to your body, but they also help your body absorb and utilize other vitamins and minerals from the other foods you eat. Without fat in the diet we can easily become malnourished.

What are your favorite fats to consume and how do you use them?

this post is linked to Real Food Wednesday


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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. As an added bonus, the regular consumption of fat will cause your gallbladder to function properly.

  2. I try to add butter, coconut oil and lard to just about everything :) I stir it in soups and cook everything in it. Here is a recipe for a GAPS gravy and a way to eat veggies with tons of fat.

    I too used to be fat phobic…heaviest I’ve ever been in my life 😛 Now that I eat literally as much fat as I possibly can I am probably underweight. Real fat does NOT make you fat. It tastes great and is great for you. Love this post.


  3. Love, love, LOVE your thoughts on fat–great minds DO think alike! I have introduced real fats back into my family’s diet, and because he “cheats” so much off of real food, my hubby hasn’t lost any weight, but is healthier anyway (feels better, not as fatigued even though he’s working more hours, not catching colds as often, and feeling better faster when he does–it’s the same for all of us really, except that he continues to put on some weight) and we all enjoy “eating” more.

    My big struggle is to help my family see that the french fries that I make (or cookies, biscuits, bread, hamburgers, GRAVY, etc) are NOT the same that you get in a restaurant, because all our “animal foods” come from organically-raised and pastured animals, and all our grains at home are either sprouted or soured (or both!). There’s a huge difference between Wheat Thins and the sourdough crackers that I make that have sea salt and are loaded with “pasture butter.” Let’s not talk about the difference between my yogurt-based ranch dressing and Hidden Valley (MSG, anyone? Even if it’s no longer “listed” in the ingredients–it used to be, don’t even know if it still is–as long as it’s less than 50% of whatever their proprietary blend is, it falls into “spices” or “natural and artificial flavors”)… Ah, but I preach to the choir!

    BTW, have we found a good source for bear fat yet? I’d like to have some overnighted to me… LOL

  4. Thanks for sharing! I am on a high fat, traditional diet! Shay :)

  5. Here’s something fun: lard is NOT solid at room temperature. It’s a thick, opaque liquid. If it is solid, read the container: it probably contains “partially hydrogenated lard.” Lard is only 49% saturated fat! And the reason I know it’s liquid at room temp is because I just bought a pastured pig and I’ve been rendering it all week! :)

    donielle Reply:

    @Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama, heh. I’ve used it a few times and mine was always the consistency of soft room temp butter or harder. Maybe I keep my house to cold….. lol

  6. “For thousands of years, butter was prized for it’s health benefits!”

    This really hit home to me when I was reading the book “Heidi” by Johanna Spyri (You can read it for free on the Kindle for PC app. Here’s the link to the book:

    When the Grandfather was helping Heidi to get better and grow, he fed her as much fresh-from-the-goat milk, butter and cheese as he could get into her. When the little girl from the city (I don’t remember her name) came to stay with them, he tempted her appetite and got her strong and walking by the same diet – along with plenty of fresh air and good sleep. It’s a great book if you’ve never read it and want a look at a pre-industrial diet vs the industrialized diet from someone who lived in and through it. :)

    donielle Reply:

    @Jessica B., I LOVE Heidi! :-) I have the full length book from when I was a kid and though I read it then, I did not remember this tidbit. Until I read a kid length version for my kids and it mentions that Heidi’s cousin (Clarabelle, Annabelle….I dunno) was brought up there and four weeks later, after all the fresh goat milk, she was walking again.

    We’re currently reading through the Little House on the Prairie books and it sure is fun (for me!) when we read about how they work in the kitchen, grow food, etc. My kids could care less. lol

    I should totally pull out Heidi for our next read-a-loud!

  7. Thanks for some good, concrete information on fats. The ties between fats and hormones are especially interesting. We switched to a low-glycemic diet with no limits of saturated fats, but absolutely no trans fats (and very limited omega-6’s). We’ve all gotten healthier, and my hormones have completely balanced out. If we had done this 6 years ago, it probably wouldn’t have taken me 2 years to conceive!

  8. What do you think about expeller pressed safflower oil? I like it for mayo- I hate olives and gagg at the taste so olive oil is out for mayo. We don’t use mayo too often but once and a while I need some and obviously, I don’t want to buy it. So I’ve been using safflower oil which makes a pretty good mayo. We use all the other fats listed above only.

    donielle Reply:

    @Rachael, I think as long as the diet is normally high in omega 3 consumption, that using fats high in omega 6’s aren’t that big of a deal. Because the body does use and need omega 6, we just eat a ton of them on a normal american diet.

    So using safflower for mayo is just fine. I use sunflower oil for mine. :-)

    Beth @ Turn 2 the Simple Reply:

    I’m looking for a good and affordable alternative to olive oil or coconut oil for making mayo — which we make into ranch dressing…my husband eats lots of ranch so I need a more affordable oil than olive oil. I picked up some sunflower oil the other day — it says “cold-pressed” but how do I know it is not rancid? Any tips for places to get good affordable oils?

    donielle Reply:

    @Beth @ Turn 2 the Simple, My copy of Nourishing Traditions says to just find cold-pressed sunflower oil, though it states that it’s hard to find a “truly cold-pressed oil”. So I guess calling the company is the only way to find out. Depending on where you live you could try finding a Frontier or Azure co-op delivery to join in on. They both sell more natural and organic foods.


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