The Real Truth About Fats

Most of what people believe about fat is wrong. Not just a little bit wrong, but turn-the-world-upside-down wrong.

And can you wonder? Ads barrage us with misinformation every hour we’re awake. Sometimes ads blurt out lies or quote bogus studies that lie for them, but mostly they show happy people, living a life we’d like to live, and using a product that leads to disease. Equating the happiness with the product, we pick it the next time we go to the grocery store.

Doctors and diet gurus jump into the mix, adding to our mountain of mistaken beliefs.

So let’s look at the complicated subject of fats.

Unsaturated fats first. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Except for olive oil, most are polyunsaturated fatty acids, aka PUFAs. They contain omega-6 acids, with some omega-3.

What are the PUFAs? Soybean, corn, safflower, canola, sesame seed, peanut, flaxseed, etc. oils. No matter how they’re processed–or not processed–these oils interfere with our health.

They stomp all over the thyroid and beat up on the rest of the endocrine system as they go. They generate estrogen, which can put us into estrogen dominance (Yeah, men, too). They kill white blood cells, messing with our immune system. They speed up aging. They’re toxic to our hearts and brains. And so on. PUFAs are nobody’s friend.

And the thing is, we don’t need them!

Our bodies make any unsaturated fats they need–unless we include PUFAs in our diet. PUFAs kill the enzyme that does the job. How’s that for self-defeating?

But hark! There’s more!

Food manufacturers shoot hydrogen through PUFAs to make them solid at room temperature (oleo, anybody?) and voila! Partially-hydrogenated PUFA, also know as transfats. Transfats do all the damage liquid PUFAs do, but faster and more powerfully. And they have a few tricks of their own.

Lord have mercy, these things are murder. Literally, unfortunately.

So let’s talk about saturated fats, which are usually solid at room temperature.

You’ve all heard the doom and gloom about saturated fats. But did you hear the part about the fact the studies that started all the ruckus assumed all solid-at-room-temperature fats were the same? Saturated fat took the blame for transfat problems!

Saturated fats, mostly animal fat, are what your body expects to come down the chute when you eat. Your body knows what to do with saturated fats, and good things happen.

Saturated fats lower cholesterol levels, help build muscle, provide energy to your cells, and on, and on. Bless your endocrine system, too.

But it’s hard to hold on to saturated fat benefits.

First, factory farms have created a problem. Rather than let chickens, cattle, pigs, etc. live and eat naturally, they pen them up and feed them corn and soy. And when we drink the milk, scramble the eggs and eat the meat, we get corn and soy PUFAs, and we lose the benefits of saturated fat.

So how to handle fats?

  • Don’t add to the unsaturated fat level by using liquid oils or their even uglier partially-hydrogenated cousins. Zero, zilch, nada.
  • Eat grass-fed meat and free range chickens. Fortunately, as more people head in this direction, prices are coming down some. Check out for grass-fed meat in your area. (I have no connection.)
  • PUFAs do less harm when most of the fat in your diet is saturated. The wider the ratio, the better. Since you can’t help getting unsaturated fat, make sure saturated fat has the upper hand.
  • Add coconut oil to your diet daily. This saturated fat protects the thyroid, stabilizes blood sugar, increases metabolism and counteracts a lot of PUFA damage.
  • Cook with butter and don’t be shy. Besides all the benefits of saturated fat, butter contains butyrate, which controls stress, raises metabolism and lowers inflammation. Try Kelly Gold Irish butter for a great taste sensation!
  • And, to repeat, it’s all good because saturated fat lowers cholesterol levels–if you don’t add junk carbs.

Well, I’ve probably made your head spin by contradicting everything you’ve been taught, but that’s what I’m here for.

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Bette Dowdell

A drunk driver damaged Bette Dowdell's pituitary gland shortly before her first birthday. Although doctors insisted for years that she was fine, her health drifted to a crash-and-burn event, and she realized her health was up to her.

Now she's happy to report she has energy all day, every day. She sleeps well. Colds, flu and headaches are all in the past. Optimism moved back in. Life is good.

Now Bette's sharing what she knows with others to help them take control of their health, too. People who become their own health advocate enjoy far better health than those that don't.

Bette grew up in The Salvation Army, where her parents were officers. Like the military, this Army life involved a lot of moving, and she attended ten schools, in nine cities, in three states before graduating from high school.

After college, Bette worked as an IBM Systems engineer, a small-company consultant and software company owner. She wrote the books How to be a Christian Without Being Annoying, On We March: A memoir of growing up in The Salvation Army and the e-book Pep For The Pooped: Discovering the Vitamins and Minerals Your Body Is Starving For.

She lives in the Phoenix area.


Bette Dowdell

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  1. Anonymous says

    I agree with almost everything, I am puzzled with peanut oil being on the bad list, as some health practitioners includes peanut oil as a good oil because it does not convert to transfats when heated, along with coconut oil which is the number one oil in every respect, as they also mention oils to be avoided which includes all oils mentioned here except for peanut oil which is included in the list of good oils, is it possible to clarify this? JAM

  2. Lynnette says

    You did not make my head spin! I agree!!! Since I changed my diet per these guidelines, and eat only Real Foods, I have become healthier. My weight is good, and I am off pharmaceuticals.

  3. Frederica Huxley says

    I fully agree with your article, but my stumbling block is organic, unprocessed flax and hemp oils. It is my understanding that these oils have the perfect ratio of Omega 3s to Omega 6s, and they are not tainted by the unspeakable processes that formulate the other ‘vegetable oils’ on the market. The cornerstone of the brilliant Budwig protocol is flax oil.

  4. EBW says

    Really!?!? I’ve always heard plant based oils were the way to go and not animal based. Perhaps that is because of the factory farm process that almost exclusively dominates commercial production. I do use coconut oil mostly but also olive and safflower, the latter just recently praised to high heaven on a TV newshour health show.
    Having been recently diagnosed with diabetes the changes I’ve made have rapidly and drastically lowered my blood glucose levels and helped me stay off the insulin my doctor wanted to put me on immediately. Because of this I’ve sought out a lot of information and now suddenly this appears to contradict some of what I’ve heard?!

  5. Bette Dowdellbetted says

    Like soy, flax seed is estrogenic. Since estrogen dominance is such a huge problem nowadays, I think avoiding it is a good plan.

    By the way, the magic fingers did it again: My reference to Irish Butter should have read “KerryGold Irish Butter”

  6. Anita says

    In the article “The truth about fats” you exclude olive oil from the other PUFAS oils. Can you please explain where olive oil fits into the picture?


  7. Tom CHHC says

    Just curious what component of flaxseed oil you would consider to be estrogenic.

    Also I am curious as to just what you meant by your statement that the body makes all the unsaturated fats it needs. By definition, all essential fatty acids must be acquired through diet, as the body is incapable of making them.

  8. Bette Dowdellbetted says

    Tom, flax seed is estrogenic. Since the oil comes from the seeds, it, too, is estrogenic.

    Anita, olive oil is not a PUFA and is considered non-inflammatory.

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