What Are Good Fats?

Updated: May 2



Within saturated fats, we have further breakdown: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats come from olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and most nuts. They remain liquid at room temperature but will also solidify if cooled. Polyunsaturated fat includes omega-3 fatty acids (like what's in salmon, alpha-linoleic acid) and omega-6 fatty acids (found in soybean oil, linoleic acid). Polyunsaturated fats remain liquid at all temperatures. These are found in foods like vegetable oils (like olive, sunflower, and avocado), nuts, and seeds. Most plant sources are generally a mix of the two.


The two types of fatty acids that our bodies need in order to function optimally, omega-3 and omega-6 can be found in plenty of places. The ratio of the two is just as important as the amount of each, since a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids has been linked to increased incidence of heart disease. Generally, omega-6 follows more pro-inflammatory pathways in our body, where omega-3 follows more anti-inflammatory. The ideal ratio is 4:1 omega 3 : omega 6.


Let's break down some our most used sources of fats so you can make more informed choices about which kinds of fats you want to eat.


Butter (organic to be specific)


Butter is about 80% fat, and the rest is mostly water. It’s basically the fatty portion of milk that has been isolated from the protein and carbs. Butter is one of the most complex of all dietary fats, containing more than 400 different fatty acids. It is very high in saturated fatty acids about 70%) and holds a fair amount of monounsaturated fatty acids (about 25%).

Polyunsaturated fats are only present in minimal amounts, consisting of about 2.3% of the total fat content. Other types of fatty substances found in butter include cholesterol and phospholipids. Around 11% of the saturated fats in butter are short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), the most common of which is butyric acid (can be beneficial and anti-inflammatory). Organic butter tended to have slighter better omega ratios, compared to conventional or purely grass-fed [2].


Other nutritional components of butter include:

  • Vitamin A. It’s the most abundant vitamin in butter. One tablespoon (14 grams) provides about 11% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI).

  • Vitamin D. Butter is a good source of vitamin D.

  • Vitamin E. A powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is often found in fatty foods.

  • Vitamin B12. Also called cobalamin, vitamin B12 is only found in foods of animal or bacterial origin, such as eggs, meat, dairy products, and fermented food.

  • Vitamin K2. A form of vitamin K.


Canola Oil


Canola oil contains 7% saturated fat and 63% unsaturated fat (of which 11% is polyunsaturated). It's one of the best choices for cooking due to its mild flavor and high smoke point (the temperature at which it begins to burn). Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can improve cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. This ratio is quite good, to be fair, but the high smoke point can denature those healthy oils so keep the temperature down! Additionally, canola oil is super high in omega-6 which we know is inflammatory, so keep its use to an absolute minimum. Canola oil should not be confused with rapeseed oil (contains very high levels of erucic acid, a compound that in large amounts can be toxic to humans).


"Butter is one of the most complex of all dietary fats, containing more than 400 different fatty acids."

Ghee


What's in ghee? Ghee is a type of clarified butter. It is made by heating butter until the milk solids separate, and then removing them. The resulting product has a higher smoke point than regular butter, so you can use it to cook at higher temperatures without worrying about burning it. Generally the nutritional content is not that far from butter, as ghee also contains butyric acid. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is 1.5 canola oil.


Ghee is popular in Indian cuisine, specifically in Ayurvedic medicine, where it is used as a cleansing agent. Ghee also has omega 3 fatty acids, which are generally only found in seafood—so if you're vegetarian you can still get these heart-healthy nutrients from ghee! It also has vitamin A, vitamin K2 (the kind that helps with bone density), and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It's linoleic acid and DHA content is what saves it, in addition to it's higher smoke point.


Olive Oil