Having the Right Dietary Fats in Your Diet – IDM V

By Jason Fung, MD

Sorry everyone, you have been misinformed!  This has most likely led us to consume artificially made fats and diets high in carbohydrates.  We now have skyrocketing rates of cardiovascular disease across North America.  If you want to protect yourself against heart disease you better consume a moderate intake of natural dietary fats and limit your carbohydrate intake.

It is important to know that not all fats are created equal.  There are some good fats and there are some really bad fats.  Fats differ depending on their chemical structure, the way we digest and absorb them into the body, and they each have very specific physiological effects.  They can also behave differently depending on what other foods they are consumed with.

Unsaturated Fats

These are the fats that are currently promoted as the “heart healthy” fats.  The biochemical structures of these fats contain empty hydrogen spaces.  This means they can go rancid much faster.  Food manufacturers do not like these fats as much because they spoil easily.  In general, vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and fish are unsaturated fats.  There are two main categories of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.

1. Monounsaturated Fats

These fats are liquid at room temperature but tend to solidify when refrigerated. They are known to be very heart-healthy fats, and can be found in things like: olive oil, avocados, animal fats, most nuts, and seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

2. Polyunsaturated Fats 

These kinds of fats are most often found in plant-based foods and are in liquid form at room temperature and when refridgerated.  These types of fats are found in: commercial vegetable oils, soybean oils, canola oils, and salad dressings.  Initially it was thought that these kinds of fats were very heart-healthy fats, but these oils are very new to human beings.  They are predominately composed of omega-6 fatty acid.  The overconsumption of these fats have lead to serious imbalances of omega-6 fatty acids in our diet, which has been proven to be threatening to our health.  In studies where they lowered the dietary intake of saturated fats and replaced them with these polyunsaturated fats, the death rates of the subjects were substantially higher. (2)

A lot of processing goes into producing these polyunsaturated fats as well.  Have you ever squeezed a kernel of corn?  How much oil comes out when you do?  Not a whole lot!  Compare that to the amount of oil that comes out when you squeeze an olive.  Quite a lot of oil comes out of the olive without a lot of work.  Look at the picture on the left-hand side.  It compares the amount of oil squeezed out by three olives compared to three kernels of corn.  The production of oils from vegetable sources requires a lot of heavy duty processing.

Trans Fats

With the demonization of saturated fats, food manufacturers had to get creative and make these “healthy” unsaturated fats have a longer shelf life.  This gave rise to the creation of the man made trans fats.  Scientists took unsaturated vegetable oils and saturated them with hydrogen molecules to give them a much longer shelf life.  These types of fats are found in: margarine, vegetable shortening, baked or packaged goods, and most fast foods.
These artificially made oils and fats concocted in laboratories are known to promote carcinogenicity and inflammation, which we know triggers adverse cardiovascular related events.  They also create unhealthy imbalances of essential fatty acids, such as omega-6, in the body.  These fats can increase your insulin resistance (1)!

Saturated Fats 

The biochemical structures of these fats are fully saturated with hydrogen molecules.  This means they are much less likely to spoil.  Demonized for decades for its supposed risk to cardiovascular health, saturated fats recently have been exonerated (2).  These types of fats are found in: unprocessed cheeses, animal meats, eggs, whole milk, butter, and coconut oil.
In 2010 a study was published called the “Meta-analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies Evaluating the Association of Saturated Fat with Cardiovascular Disease.”  This investigation analyzed 347, 747 subjects. Its conclusions were: “A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.”  In fact, their results demonstrated that a diet moderately high in saturated fats is actually very protective against stroke (3)!
One of the reasons why saturated fats may be beneficial in protecting against heart disease is because they increase the size of LDL particles, which are very benign cholesterol carrying lipoprotein molecules (4).  From our previous discussion in Why Dietary Cholesterol is Important – IDM 4, we know that having large LDL particles is important because they don’t get stuck in our arterial walls as compared to small LDL particles.  They also raise HDL levels, and we know higher levels of HDL lower our risk of cardiovascular disease (4).

Supplementing Carbohydrates for Natural Fat in Our Modern Day Diet

Dietary fat is absolutely essential for human survival.  Throughout our existence we always had a diet that was moderately high in saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and some essential polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3.  However, we have been urged by health officials for decades to avoid these fats that we evolved to digest and utilized internally.  As a result, we have substituted our high fat intake with an overabundance of refined carbohydrates.  Not having a sufficient dietary intake of natural fats forces the body to manufacture fats from other sources, such as carbohydrates, and absorb this unwanted fat.  This is the fat that gives you that unwanted beer belly and love handles (5)!

Why Low Carb and High Fat Diets Are Important!

Elevated triglyceride levels are a marker for increased risk of cardiovascular disease.  However, this measured value is not created by natural dietary fats!  It is the dietary carbohydrates that generate this value.  If a patient comes in to see me and their triglyceride levels are high, then I know they are consuming a diet high in carbohydrates.  The only way to reduce this is by decreasing your consumption of carbohydrates.
Most natural dietary fats are not absorbed into the bloodstream.  Instead they are transported directly into our lymphatic system.  It is the excess carbohydrates hanging out in the body that are converted into triglycerides and enter the bloodstream shortly after eating a meal.   If you want to reduced your triglyceride levels, then you need to reduce your consumption of dietary carbohydrates!  Diets low in carbohydrates reduces your triglyceride levels in your blood, even if your diet is high in saturated fats!

Diets low in carbohydrates and high in natural fats are your
best protection against heart disease!

Meatloaf for Eight!

  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 piece of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 of freshly ground flaxseed
  • 2 lbs of grass-fed ground beef
  • 4 strips of bacon, halved
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of tomato juice
  • 2 tbsp of parsley, finely chopped
  • Sea salt or Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Preaheat the oven to 350F
  2. Lightly oil a rimmed baking pan
  3. Place a large skillet over medium heat, and heat the coconut oil
  4. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic to the skillet, stir occasionally for 5 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl to cool to room temperatureAdd the beef, eggs, tomato juice, flaxseed, parsley, salt, and pepper to the bowl, and mix thoroughly
  5. Transfer the mixture to the baking pan and roll it into a log shape with your hands
  6. Lay the bacon strips across the roll
  7. Bake for 75 minutes
  8. Let the meatloaf cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before you slice and serve it

Chicken Curry for Six!

  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lbs of chicken (white or dark meat) cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 tbsp of curry powder
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of grated fresh ginger
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1/2 of fresh coconut milk straight from the coconut
  • 1/2 tsp of ground red pepper
  • 3 tbsp of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of white wine

  1. Place a large skillet over medium heat and heat the oil
  2. Add the onion, garlic and chicken to the skillet, and cook for 5 minutes
  3. Add the curry powder, paprika, ginger, salt tomato paste, coconut milk, red pepper, cilantro, and water to the skillet
  4. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stir occasionally
  5. Add the wine and cook, covered, for another 2 or 3 minutes


By The Fasting Method

For many health reasons, losing weight is important. It can improve your blood sugars, blood pressure and metabolic health, lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. But it’s not easy. That’s where we can help.

Jason Fung, MD

By Jason Fung, MD

Jason Fung, M.D., is a Toronto-based nephrologist (kidney specialist) and a world leading expert in intermittent fasting and low-carb diets.

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