The Definitive Guide to Fats

guide to fatsCholesterol usually gets the gold for most demonized nutrient, and fats undoubtedly take the silver. It’s time to confront the misunderstandings around fats.

When I switched from a high-carb, low-fat diet and started to eat healthy fat as a nutrient, my health rapidly transformed. As important as fat is to your body, the fact remains that not all fats are created equal.

A few fats, including but not limited to trans fats, deserve every bit of disparagement they get and then some. But many types of fats are beneficial, and we’d like to put in a good word for them. Here, we’ll go through good fats, harmful fats, and how to eat more of the best kinds of fats. At the end of this article, I’ve included a video explaining how to get more healthy fats and why you would want to in the first place.

What are fats?

You may count your fat grams as part of your macro tracking, or you see them high up on your nutrition label. But what are fats, really?

Fats are compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms that exist in chains of varying lengths, shapes and orders. They’re one of the vital nutrients required by the body for both energy and the construction/maintenance of “structural” elements, such as cell membranes.

Saturated and Unsaturated Fats

It’s a common misconception that fats are categorized as either saturated or unsaturated. That’s not exactly how it works. All fats to some extent contain both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, they are generally categorized by levels of saturation.

Monounsaturated Fats

Just one type of monounsaturated fat - oleic acid

Biochemically speaking, these fatty acids sport a single double bond in their fatty acid chain. The more double bonds a fatty acid has, the more “fluid” it is. They are generally liquid at room temperature.

Monounsaturated fats are found in numerous oils, including avocado oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, sesame seed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil and peanut oil. Notice that we use the word “found” and not comprise. The fact is, these oils contain varying levels of monounsaturated fat. The rest is a mix of polyunsaturated and saturated. Olive oil, for example, contains about 75% monounsaturated fat, and canola 60%. By the way, these fats are also found in avocados and nuts. They’re granted approval (as much as any fat is in conventional wisdom) as a “healthy fat.”

Polyunsaturated Fats

Just one type of polyunsaturated fat - linoleic acid

Polyunsaturated fats have more than one double bond in their fatty acid chain. They tend to be liquid even when refrigerated. Their problem is they also tend to go rancid easily, particularly when heated. When we heat them (and we often do), they often become oxidized. We’ve let in the Trojan Horse at that point and opened ourselves up to all kinds of free radical damage – everywhere from cell membrane damage to wrinkles to arterial plaque build up.

Polyunsaturated fats are found in grain products, soybeans, peanuts and fish oil.

Essential Fatty Acids

First off, we call them essential because the body can’t produce them itself and must obtain them from food. We’re talking about omega-3 and omega-6.

Omega-6. I fully acknowledge it’s important, but most of us get enough of it that we don’t have to think about it. Omega-6 fatty acids, found in corn and other grains as well grain-fed livestock, play a crucial role in dermal integrity and renal function among other things. But if left unchecked, they trigger inflammation. Ratio matters, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

What keeps omege-6 in check? Omega-3s, of course. While omega-3s were ignored for decades, they’re finally garnering respect, but it’s still not enough in my opinion.


Omega-3s are found primarily in fish, algae, flax and nuts. You also find good portions of them in eggs from chickens that are fed fish or flax meal. And you’ve heard us go on and on about the three forms: ALA (think flax) as well as EPA and DHA (think fish oil). Omega-3s have several key functions, including:

  • Aiding circulation by naturally thinning the blood
  • Fighting systemic inflammation
  • Supporting brain function
  • Easing symptoms of depression, anxiety and even ADHD

Now back to the ratio matter. Estimates vary, but experts generally characterize Western diets as anywhere between 10-30 parts omega-6 to 1 part omega-3 (10-30:1). What ratio should we be getting? What did our primal ancestors likely eat? Close to 1:1, although many will try to tell you that 4:1 is good enough. Supplements can bridge the gap if you want to rein in your ratios.

The sky high ratio of typical Western diets sets us up for inflammation, high blood pressure, blood clots, depressed immune function and sub-optimal brain development and neurological function.

So, what about the other oils, like olive oil? The ratio for olive oil is 3:1, which isn’t great in and of itself. But there’s yet another wrinkle. Olive oil is 75% monounsaturated and 14% saturated, which means that only 11% of it has the polyunsaturated ratio to begin with. In these relatively small amounts, ratio isn’t as much of a concern, particularly when the oil contains so many other good compounds like polyphenols that fight inflammation damage caused, in part, by the problematic ratio. Corn oil, on the other hand, contains only about 25% monounsaturated fat (and 13% saturated). The ratio matters big time here.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats have been demonized for decades, largely due to the widely accepted lipid hypothesis that made a connection between lipid consumption and heart disease – and the advice that went along with it.

Myristic Acid

Saturated fats have all available carbon bonds paired with hydrogen atoms, which makes them highly stable. They don’t have the same tendency toward rancidity as polyunsaturated fats, even if heated. This is a good thing.

Saturated fats are an integral part of Primal living and are found in animal products and some oils, as part of a healthy diet, and I’ll say it again. Saturated fats serve critical roles in the human body. They make up 1/2 of cell membrane structure. They enhance calcium absorption and immune function. They aid in body’s synthesis of the essential fatty acids and provide a rich source of fat soluble vitamins.

Last but not least, they provide cholesterol. The human body makes its own, but it all balances out. Can I help that I’ve been won over by its many charms? Naturally occurring substances, natural body processes appeal to me – unlike our next categories.

Trans Fats

We’ve all heard the story by now. The unnatural chemical modification process that created trans fats made products more shelf stable but wreak havoc for those who ingest them. (Quick fact: the hydrogenation process changes the position of hydrogen atoms in the fatty acid chain.)

Maleic Acid Hydrogenation

The body doesn’t recognize the transformed fats. The trans fats are absorbed through cell membranes, where they initiate general disorder in cell metabolism. Trans fats have been associated with inflammation, associated atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity and immune system dysfunction.

Interesterified Fats

“What are these?” you ask. Good question. Insteresterified fats are a new-ish breed of chemically modified fats created to avoid the trans fat label. Like trans fats, these fats go through a kind of hydrogenation process along with the associated rearrangement of fat molecules and an enrichment with stearic acid. The point is the same as it was with the trans fat poison, er process: it makes the product more shelf stable.

So, this sounds all too familiar, no? Sound like splitting hairs? You got it. (Insert your own expletive.)

My suggestion: if hydrogenated is mentioned anywhere on the label, put it down and walk away.

How to Get More Healthy Fats

There are lots of ways to be smart about eating fat. The key is knowing what to look for. A few of my favorite fat sources include:

  • Avocados
  • Avocado oil
  • Salad dressing made with avocado oil
  • Olive oil
  • High-quality lard and tallow from pastured animals
  •  Grass-fed meats
  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut butter

Here’s a video explaining how to add more healthy fats to your day, plus why you would want to.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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275 thoughts on “The Definitive Guide to Fats”

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  1. EXCELLENT article….
    so i know this is a dumb question but what is a reommended daily amount of fat and saturated fat?

    1. For now, the USDA reccomends that 20-35% of calories come from fat, and 10% of calories come from saturated fat. That means 45-77g total fat and <22g saturated fat, but what they didn't take into consideration was beneficial saturated fats like lauric acid (found in coconuts) or stearic acid (found in dark chocolate)

  2. Loved the article – very informative.

    What is the people’s take on Saturated fats from dairy products (specifically pastuerized stuff?)

    What is a good ratio of o3:o6:saturated:mono:poly? 🙂

  3. Fascinating stuff! Very informative and comprehensive. You answered so many questions I’ve had, I can’t think of any more to ask! Well, about fats anyhow. Thanks for the heads up about the interesterified fats – hadn’t even heard of those yet.

  4. n-6 Polyunsaturated vegetable oils – those “lovely” sunflower oils were’ told by Flora are so heart healthy… groan!!!!!!!!

    see this:
    CANCER RESEARCH 41, 3706-371 0, September 1981
    Lipids and Immune Function
    Joseph J. Vitale and Selwyn A Broitman
    Boston University School of Medicine, Mallory Institute of Pathology, Boston, Massachusetts
    There is in vitro and in vivo evidence to suggest that dietary lipids play a role in modulating immune function. A review of the current literature on the interrelationships among dietary lipids, blood cholesterol levels, immunosuppression, and tumorigenesis makes for a very strong argument that (a) immunosuppression may be causally related to lymphoproliferative disorders, as well as to tumorigenesis and (b) diets high in polyunsaturated fat, relative to diets high in saturated fat, are more immunosuppressive and are better promoters of tumori genesis.
    just one quote will do to say enough about the effects of polyunsaturated veg oils:
    Further, there is general agreement that the lowering of serum cholesterol associated with polyunsaturated fat is attributed to the essential unsaturated fatty acids linoleic, linolenic, and arachidonic acids, the same acids which when fed or ingested have been shown to be immunosuppressive


  5. There are a lot of ‘perfect omega 3 to 6 ratio’ supplements out there these days. It’s a bit of a shame that the makers of these supplements don’t think further than their own product..

  6. So when it all boils down, are these (extra)fats which I include in my lifestyle the best?
    Olives, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, tehina, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and occas nuts (walnut, pecan, almond, mac, brazil). Then I guess the meat fat from grassfed or org meat and a rare dash of toasted sesame oil in a stir fry!

  7. Do you have any thoughts on fractionated oil? Obviously not the healthiest thing in the world since it is highly processed, but is it the same sort of not healthy as trans and interestified fat?

    1. I have not heard about fractionated oil in relation to it being used as food. It is promoted as a massage oil that can easily wash from massage sheets. But food ?

  8. Outstanding Article! Eating nuts, fish, and eggs is a great way to get Omega 3. My fav. breakfast, Cooked egg topped with cashew butter. Don’t be afraid of “good” fats, just watch the “calories.”

  9. Great post. I think it’s funny how “fat” has become so hush, hush. It’s ironic that the recommended nutrient intakes call for more of our calories coming from fat than protein. Great job of showing how we still need some fat in our diets. Here’s something I’ve been wondering for a while, but keep forgeting to research though … Does anybody know the difference between virgin and extra virgin olive oil?

    1. virgin olive oil is just mechanically pressed, to squeeze out the oil, as opposed to using solvents or heat to bring out oils. extra virgin olive oil goes thru some testing to make sure it is of highest quality

      1. Actually, in the US the answer is much simpler than that: nothing. There are absolutely no legally enforced requirements here (though there are, laughably enough, voluntary guidelines) to label olive oil “extra virgin”, as opposed to “virgin”, “olive pomace oil”, or “excess grease from processing equipment, as long as it’s principally derived from olives”. Assessment of olive oil processing and quality is a very big deal in Europe (see International Olive Council), but anything you’ll get in the grocery store here will be varying degrees of garbage they couldn’t sell at a good price there (see Capitalism).

  10. Dan –

    We have a Definitive Guide Post on Oils scheduled for sometime in the next month or so. Stay tuned!

  11. Retail grades in IOOC member nations
    As IOOC standards are complex, the labels in stores (except in the U.S.) clearly show an oil’s grade:

    Extra-virgin olive oil comes from cold pressing of the olives, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. There can be no refined oil in extra-virgin olive oil.
    Virgin olive oil has an acidity less than 2%, and judged to have a good taste. There can be no refined oil in virgin olive oil.
    Pure olive oil. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are usually a blend of refined olive oil and one of the above two categories of virgin olive oil.
    Olive oil is a blend of virgin oil and refined oil, containing no more than 1.5% acidity. It commonly lacks a strong flavor.
    Olive-pomace oil is a blend of refined pomace olive oil and possibly some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but it may not be called olive oil. Olive-pomace oil is rarely found in a grocery store; it is often used for certain kinds of cooking in restaurants.
    Lampante oil is olive oil not used for consumption; lampante comes from olive oil’s ancient use as fuel in oil-burning lamps. Lampante oil is mostly used in the industrial market.

    [edit] Label wording
    Olive oil vendors choose the wording on their labels very carefully.

    “100% Pure Olive Oil” is often the lowest quality available in a retail store: better grades would have “virgin” on the label.
    “Made from refined olive oils” suggests that the essence was captured, but in fact means that the taste and acidity were chemically produced.
    “Light olive oil” actually means refined olive oil, not a lower fat content. All olive oil has 120 calories per tablespoon (34 J/ml).
    “From hand-picked olives” may indicate that the oil is of better quality, since producers harvesting olives by mechanical methods are inclined to leave olives to over-ripen in order to increase yield.
    “First cold press” means that the oil in bottles with this label is the first oil that came from the first press of the olives. The word cold is important because if heat is used, the olive oil’s chemistry is changed.
    “Bottled in Italy” or “Packed in Italy” does not necessarily mean that the olive oil originated in Italy. Back or side labels indicate the origin of the olive oil which is often a mixture of oils from several nations[6].

    [edit] Retail grades in the United States
    Most of the governments in the world are members of the International Olive Oil Council, which requires member governments to promulgate laws making olive oil labels conform to the IOOC standards.

    The United States is the only major oil-producing or oil-consuming country which is not a member of the IOOC, and therefore, the retail grades listed above have no legal meaning in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which controls this aspect of labeling, currently lists four grades of olive oil: “Fancy”, “Choice”, “Standard”, and “Substandard”. These were established in 1948. [7] The grades are based on acidity, absence of defects, odor and flavor. While the USDA is considering adopting labeling rules that parallel the international standards, until they do so, terms such as “extra virgin” may be applied to any grade of oil, making the term of dubious usefulness.

  12. After reading this, I have a question. When cooking, does it make more sense to use saturated fat, such as butter, instead of oil?

    Because, according to the definitive guide to fats, mono and poly unsaturated fats found in oil are more likely to form free radicals when used to fry something on a skillet or bake something in the oven.

    1. Yes, actually, using a saturated fat like coconut oil is safer. The double bonds in poly fats are more apt to form trans fats when heated to high. Monounsaturated fats like olive, peanut, and canola* can tolerate moderate temperatures on the stove.

      *Personally, I don’t recommend canola oil, i’ve heard some pretty nasty things about it, it has to go thru a lot of processing and chemical extraction to detoxify it to humans. And free radicals form. Never again will I buy canola oil

  13. Excellent post! Thanks!

    VAS yes! you should only use ploys for low heat cooking. I only add it at the end. I use coconut oil, butter, bacon fat, etc for cooking. Coconut oil is the best.

    All commercial oils, in my opinion, should be avoided as they are heat processed. These include soy, corn and cannola.

  14. Great article and thoroughly researched. I especially appreciate that you added some chemical drawings for an increased understanding.

  15. What exactly is “low heat” and “high heat” cooking?

    I use a tablespoon of olive oil when I bake chicken. It usually cooks @ 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

  16. “What exactly is “low heat” and “high heat” cooking?”

    Barry, truthfully, I don’t know the temps that are safe. I don’t use any of those when I cook. I do like olive oil, but don’t use it much. I use coconut oil, butter, bacon grease (nitrate free bacon), etc for all cooking. If I make something that calls for olive oil I add it at the end of cooking, with the heat turned down or off. I don’t use it for baking.

    I have read that if the oil smokes it’s damaged, so it should be thrown out. I can’t afford to be throwing food away, so I don’t use oils that smoke easily. Saturated fats are much more stable than polyunsaturated fats so are better for cooking.

    I think tho, that the biggest problem is stove top cooking, where the temps (I think) are higher. I’ve seen recipes to bake fish at 350, so I guess that’s safe at least.

    Here’s a little list I found:

    Here are a few examples of oils and their smoke points (get your thermometers ready!):
    Sunflower oil – 440F
    Canola oil – 400F
    Butter – 350F
    Extra virgin olive oil – 320F


  17. How much fat to consume while in ketosis?
    And also from Type 2 diabetic point of view?

    1. Bad! Paleolithic man had no access to milk since animals were not domesticated and would have eaten him before he was able to steal the milk. The human genome suffers from lactose intolerance because it has yet to evolve to accept it.

      1. Good! The “human genome” only suffers from lactose intolerance because it’s drinking pasteurized/homogenized milk from cows that are fed corn. That’s the bad part. Raw milk is not pasteurized/homogenized so the enzyme lactase (which digests the lactose) hasn’t been destroyed by heat, which means that those who are lactose intolerant can usually drink it. Also, raw milk is typically from cows that are grass-fed (which is a cow’s food of choice)so the milk has an abundance of nutrition – proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, enzymes. Pasteurized/homogenized milk is denatured in the process & Vits A & D are added back, but in a synthetic form.
        Real milk – raw – the way nature intended should be a part of everybody’s diet.

        1. Being lactose sensitive myself, I was very happy to learn that cheese and butter have much lower lactose concentration than milk. During fermentation, bacteria take care of consuming most of that yummy sugar leaving behind a product that is nearly lactose free. This only applies to cultured butter though. Traditional butter is still low on lactose, but for a different reason: As the milk fat is separated from water, a big part of the lactose is left behind.

  18. Very nice article. I’m not completely elucidated yet. I would love to see two things to help me get organized about my eating efforts: 1. a chart-view summary of fat types organized by priority of healthfulness and providing examples of food types per fat; and 2. perhaps a separate post altogether on oil types (walnut, olive, grapeseed, vegetable, etc.) and a similar chart-view summary. Those would be absolutely priceless…

    Mark? 😉

  19. *high five*

    Excellent article, as always. I’m a bit of an idiot but that made perfect sense to me and I’ll be using it to inform my eating habits from now on.

  20. Great article and very informative.

    We need to break free from junk science, and realize that FOOD is good for us, where man made stuff is not. Fat, carbs, and protein are essential for us to survive.

    I wish that the “establishment” would quit contradicting themselves.

    It “appears” (strong emphasis on “appears”)that all the flip-flopping is just a mere a coincident to a next release of diets, food systems, books, and talk show appearances.

    All well intended and in our best interest of course.

  21. If we are trying to keep a balanced ratio of 3:6, should we stay away from “healthy” monounsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts, avocados? It seems like we want to eat wild fish, pasture raised eggs and meat, cook with saturated fats (coconut oil, lard, ghee, butter) and limit our intake of olive oil, nuts, and avocados because they will raise our 6 ratio. Is this correct?

  22. Praise the lard!

    Mary Enig is THE fat expert, and actually the only one I trust on these issues. She says that up to 70% of energy intake should be fat and half of that saturated. There is an article you can easily find with google : 7 reasons to eat more saturated fat. I’m a believer!

    1. I’ve heard good things about lard. Even though it’s an animal fat, the ratio of unsat to sat fats is 8:5. Cool, huh.

  23. Thanks so much for these valuable links. Especially regarding saturated fats. I was getting more and more confused while reading different weight loss programs and this makes it so simple!
    I’d like more info on carrageenan: since it is extracted from sea weed is it toxic?

    1. Science does NOT conspire against anyone…

      Humans using science are the issue.

      Also it is often not the scientists that are the problem.

      Scientists, as part of science discover things – for e.g. a way to create Interesterified Fats… The scientists may report that these fats are more stable than non-Interesterified Fats, but use in humans is not advised as it is not known what may happen when these fats are used.

      BUT a FOOD COMPANY, most likely the accountants and product development people (that may or may not be scientists) determine that using these chemicals extends shelf life, which reduces costs, which makes more profit. Also the shareholders that own shares in these companies have NO ISSUE when they get dividends and rising share prices…

      We are quick to blame science – when it is always money and HUMAN greed that drives these things… these are the topics of economics, capitalism, marketing, accounting, and even law… not science

      When Grok first tied a rock to a stick – that was science

      When Grok used that rock/stick tool to kill an animal more effectively – that was driven by human needs…

      If Grok used it to kill another Grok – that was human greed/emotion

      Even the methods of creating fire (as opposed to it spontaneously occurring due to natural events) was science… sure it was primitive science, but it was science. Again how fire creation is used, whether for good or evil is up to Grok…


    2. I’m pretty sure we’re told to eat 6-11 oz of grain a day is because the agriculture economy is mostly grain-based. This advice is made to benefit the pockets of farmers, not the nations health. Had agriculture profited more off of fruit we’d be eating 6-11 servings of fruit instead of 2 cups. I guess the USofA doesn’t profit well off of meat and oils, because were told to take a measly 2 Tbs a day, which only has 28g of fat, but current recommendations are to eat at least 44. But, once again, the recommendations are in place to fill the wallets of the agriculturalists.

  24. Some one once told me …The answers are there.. truth cannot be hidden forever. Let those who wish to sleep or be blinded do so. Don’t waste your time being angry.. be happy for the truth you find.

  25. thick crust pepperoni, sausage, canadian ham pizza with extra cheese is good for your health.

    1. No all of the carbs from the crust, nitrates, and salt are extremely unhealthy. even worse if you’re using conventional meat. You clearly completely misunderstood this article.

    2. i wouldn’t say that, because it can be pretty high in sodium, and most pizza crust is made of refined flour.

  26. Surgeon Captain Cleave RN pointed out the dangers of transfatty acids created through the hydrogenation process back in 1974. He hypothesised that the rise in incidence of many diseases such as CHD, diabetes and obesity, could be traced back to when industry became able to extract oil from sunflower seeds!

  27. “1878 was the year that a strange new disease was documented in the medical literature. Dr Adam Hammer, a British physician described FOR THE FIRST TIME a previously unknown condition now referred to as a heart attack. Up to that time no cases of heart attach had ever been documented in the medical literature.” Dr Bruce Fife, “Eat Fat, Look Thin” Also see the fats chart on page 32

    1. That was very informative. I’m surprised that the margarine industry is still going – vested interests!

  28. Okay, I can understand why you guys are advocating saturated fat. But what about the fact that grass-fed and/or wild meat has more monounsaturated fat and less saturated fat than normal grain-fed farm animals? Do you really think the upped sat content of farm meat is healthy? Although Mark provides some studies, I don’t see any concerning the saturated fat. A great article, IMO, always has studies to back up all of the info! Can anyone provide a source that saturated fat is healthy? Thanks, this info would be greatly appreciated!

    1. coconut oil is pretty good, instead of being digested like a saturated fat, this unique medium-length sat fat is digested more like a carbohydrate, providing a small metabolic boost. Also, the lauric acid, once digested has antiviral properties.

      Dark chocolate (real chocolate, not candy, head to the baking aisle, not the checkout counter) has some stearic acid (sat) that is converted by the body into oleic acid (mono). Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and one oz per day has been shown to lower bad cholesterol, and reduce stress.

  29. Ah, thank you very much.
    I have been looking for something for some time now Mark.
    It hurts me how much the media tells us that fats are bad, but they never say why, they just tell us that all fats will leave us laying on the couch, unable to move.
    I am using this information of a research assignment. It has been very informative to read!


    1. It all started around the 1950’s when all fats were thought to be bad. Now we know better, but the media continues to play off our ingrained but slightly abated fat phobia. Seriously, lowfat yogurt, chocolate with 30% less fat, fat-free chips, you cannot watch one half hour of tv without seeing some ad for a lowfat but by no means healthy food product. Often these “foods” are higher in sugar, artifical flavors, and sodium to make up for the lost fat. Look up better ‘n’ peanut butter. Why did they try to make an already healthy food even “healthier”, well they failed miserably. I think our fear of fats comes from the facts that

      -Because of their name, it’s quite a misnomer, when it comes to fats, you are NOT what you eat.

      -Most of the fat we get is from fast food, candy, and pastries, that are really unhealthy. Since these foods are high in fat, and so are coconuts, avocadoes, and butter, they must also be bad for us.

      -Fat also has more than twice the calories of protein and carbohydrates, and we live in a society that is bent on weight loss at any cost.

      But seriously, the Mediterranean diet consists of plenty of olive oil, getting up to 37% of their calories from it.

      The indigenous people in central america valued avocado and chocolate.

      Swedish people also enjoy chocolate, even more than us americans, but have lower obesity rates.

      And Pacific Islanders would enjoy coconut.

      Even butter is a staple in France, it’s the preferred sauteing agent.They also love their cheese.

      Why is it that when Americans eat something we get fat off of it?

  30. what about taking a EFA supplement mark?
    It has a ratio of 2:1 Omega 3:6 “Udos Choice 3-6-9 blend of oil. It isn’t refined omega 6 fats, but it does have them.

  31. Starting to add an avocado to my weekly diet plan. Plenty of good nutrients & good fats. And it slows down the cravings so it’s included at lunch or snack when the next meal maybe more than several hours away. I’ve starting making a salad dressing with an avocado & lemon juice instead of oil & vinegar.

  32. Hey everyone, I have a question. There’s one thing I don’t understand about the article, and I really want to. It’s this paragraph:

    “So, what about the other oils? What about olive oil? The ratio for olive oil is 3:1, which isn’t great in and of itself. But there’s yet another wrinkle. Olive oil is 75% monounsaturated and 14% saturated, which means that only 11% of it has the polyunsaturated ratio to begin with. In these relatively small amounts, ratio isn’t as much of a concern, particularly when the oil contains so many other good compounds like polyphenols that fight inflammation damage caused, in part, by the problematic ratio. Corn oil, on the other hand, contains only about 25% monounsaturated fat (and 13% saturated). The ratio matters big time here.”

    It *sounds* as if the Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids are only found in the polyunsaturated portion of the respective fats. Is that impression accurate? If not, could someone please explain to me why it says that only the polyunsaturated part matters in terms of omega ratio.

    1. Yes… the Omega’s are only found in PUFAs (PolyUnsaturated Fatty Acids)… none in saturated or mono fats.

  33. I’m concerned about the 60in3 article that is in the ‘further reading’ links. In the article it is recommended that healthy adult men get between 13-18% of their calories from fat and women 20-25%, with the average for all adults between 20-30%.

    It seems that this further reading may lead to confusion.

  34. Great article, Mark! Elsewhere you have written that you avoid poultry fat as it is heavy in omega 6. We raise heritage chickens and ducks, and they free range over a wide natural area. We assume, like wild birds and animals, that their fat is richer in omega 3. I have been rendering the fat and use it in cooking. Am I correct or not, in assuming this is okay?

    (We also eat only pastured beef and lamb.)

  35. Please explain to me why the stability of saturated fats is a good thing? Stable outside of the body equals stability inside the body — we want fluidity in our cells, yes? Also, saturated fat increases our LDL cholesterol…please tell me why that is positive? ADA, USDA, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics…all of these organizations suggest we consume less than 7-10% of our diet through saturated fats. While some of your information appears accurate, it is incredible deceiving for those that know little about fats to encourage them to consume saturated fats. If you are dedicated to providing accurate information for your readers, I would suggest making a change to your article.

    1. We want them to be STABLE against oxidation and damage. Oxidized or damaged fats are at the root of a lot of inflammatory response in our bodies. Eating fats that are harder to damage means less oxidative stress in our bodies = greater health.

      My article stands!

      1. Yeah, and not all saturated fat is equal, lauric acid in coconuts for example, is digested in the body more like a carbohydrate. And it doesn’t cause the same heart problems as animal fats.

        Stearic acid in dark chocolate is turned by the body into a MUFA

  36. Jenny,

    The USDA and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggest the WRONG foods. We all need Macronutrients, Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Lipids (Fats) for body, ie cellular function. The debate is in what forms that should come. I think the more we ate a predominant grains diet we introduced items that though they were more calorically dense, were not as nutritious for out body. The primative diet of meat, veggies, and nuts makes sense. Meat is a huge area that also encompasses fats, a good portion of your fats can come from here while eating some nuts to fill in the rest. Oils and butter are just extras for flavor but shouldn’t be a huge component of your overall fat intake. The Okanawian diet has rice, but they eat a much smaller amount, less than a cup at each meal, and combine it with a great deal of fish and veggies. This later part is where a majority of their fats come from, the fish and other meat they eat, but they eat a HUGE variety of sea life as an island people. I mean think about it, we survived as a species tens of thousands of years on this type of diet, surviving between 20-80 years old, many of those years in Ice Age conditions (so not carbs, just proteins) BEFORE we domesticated food animals or horticulture. Compared to man made, natural is ALWAYS better, just need to watch the ratios!!

  37. Gawd, I want to learn about the fats so badly, but this article is way way over my head. I truely appreciate all the information written here and the work that was put into orgainzing the article, but the detailed science behind the article made my head swim. Embarrassed to say this actually. And how in the world do I measure my fat intake ratio?

    Here’s what I need: Just tell me what to buy and how to use it.

    I went to the store today to buy coconut oil and found shelf after shelf of all different kinds of oils. Olive oil, safflower oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, on and on and on. Ugh!!!!!

    1. I know, fat has unjustly undergone uncountable scrutiny. But nowadays it’s being revived as a health food. Especially since there are so many different forms of fat, even beyond SAFAS, MUFAS, PUFAS,and TFA’s

  38. I completely agree with these viewpoints. I have personally lived on the low-fat high carb diet for almost 30 years and yet kept gaining weight and had a completely screwed up lipid profile. The Dr. almost put me on statins and thats when I decided to take matters in my own hands and started investigating exercise and good fats for heart health. I was of course shocked to not find a single piece of evidence that correlated dietary cholesterol to lipid cholesterol. I then started investigating saturated fats and still couldn’t find any evidence that saturated fat will cause heart attacks. I think when it comes to heart disease most of the medical community works off of hearsay where a doctor goes up on stage and announces, as-a-matter-of-factly, that cholesterol and saturated fats cause heart attacks and then the other doctors cite the previous doctor in their publications and so on and so forth. Its a vicious circle that’s been perpetuated for the last half a century and its time the medical community come clean. I highly doubt that’s ever going to happen given the fact that demonizing cholesterol has created a $26 billion industry of statin drugs that sponsors more research in this area. If you are a medical researcher serious about your career you better not say anything that will go against conventional wisdom of “cholesterol is evil” otherwise your grants will be cut and you will never publish any thing ever again. So from that standpoint I think the situation is abysmally bleak, but thanks to people like you there is some hope for people that are willing to take health matters in their own hands. Thanks for taking the initiative to educate the ordinary people about whats healthy and whats not!


    Yogesh Verma

  39. What is your stance on lard? I use very little to nearly no olive oil, except for salad dressing. I make my own lard from organic pig back fat that I purchase from a farm.

    1. As long as it is from pigs fed a natural diet eat as much as you want within reason. All animal fats from animals fed a natural diet are great for you.

    2. If your lard is from pastured pigs I wouldn’t worry too much. Even pastured pigs are a little bit skewed in their omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, but you can balance this by using coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and tallow for cooking (diversity of fat sources beng a good thing), and eating some wild-caught fish (or shrimp) a few times a week.

    3. Apparently, it’s high in oleic acid, even though it’s an animal fat.

  40. You know thus significantly in terms of this subject, made me in my view consider it from a lot of varied angles. Its like women and men aren’t interested unless it’s one thing to do with Girl gaga! Your own stuffs outstanding. All the time maintain it up!

  41. What about Benecol Spread (55% vegetable oil) ? The label says it contains liquid canola oil, , partially hydrogenated soybean oil, plant stanol estersand several other ingredients, but that it is “proven to reduce cholesterol.”

    1. Horrible. As Mark said, if there’s anything hydrogenated about your fats, RUN, do NOT walk to a different fat source. Also seems like the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio would be WAY out of balance.

      Just use coconut oil, butter, lard, or tallow. 😉

    2. partially hydrogenated are two words that you should never find on a real food label. Turn around and don’t ever look back. Eat something that you’d find in nature

  42. All info enlightening and tongue in cheek humor with it even better. Well explained and will be passing it along!!! Thank you!!! TY!!! TY!!!!

  43. So theres one thing i dont get. Once a fat has been hydrogenated what separates it from a saturated fat? they look the same to me, both double bonds have split and now each have a hydrogen attached to them. Is this bond somehow different from the other C-O bonds? eg is one ionic and the other covalent? or something like that. Or is it the case that the hydrogenation process isnt perfect and in fact fats only get partially hydrogenated? leaving an empty bond?

    Any explanation would be great. i just want to understand why!

  44. Judging by the last comment here I’m a little late to the party, but I have a question. . . if anyone is still here.
    I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole of links related to this post, so the question may seem irrelivant here, bare with me, as it seems a lot of folks here have studied this for a while and have a lot of wisdomI would like to tap into.
    Am I correct in stating salmon oil has the best EPA/DHA ratio?
    Does anyone have advice on the best pharmacutical brand for human consumption?

  45. I read the ratio of monounsaturated to saturated subcutaneous fat is about 2:1. Is that the ratio we should be eating? Does it matter?

  46. Just wondering, are sunflower and/or canola oils which are organic and expeller pressed, such as in “Annie’s” brand salad dressings okay?

  47. Is Polyunsaturated Fat simply Omega 3? And is Monounsaturated Fat simply Omega 6?

  48. I have found after rigorous self experimentation that I do better on a low fat paleo diet. I would love to eat more fats (have experimented with all kinds of paleo/primal kinds) but truly feel sadly my body runs better without added oil or fatty cuts of meat etc.

    If you ever do dear mark again (it’s sometimes my favorite post of the week!) I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to optimize a lower fat primal diet for USB’s outliers and if some in your opinion really might feel better this way.

    I eat oysters, lower fat wild fish(occasional fatty cod if a craving strikes) lots of vegetables prepared well (usually steamed or if salad well massaged) plus a good deal of pumpkin and fruit plus seaweed and tofu (marinated in shio-koji for a day to lesson anti-nutrients) miso and some tempeh, plus a hell of a lot of mushrooms of all varieties.

    This diet makes me feel best, and I’ve tried to incorporate as many of your principals as possible-with one caveat being much less fat.

    Could this be healthy long term? Anything you’d suggest? Any supplements? I’d love your input.

    I’m a thin, active 30 year old female with ulcerative colitis if that helps?

    Thank you so much Mark as always,

    stay safe??

  49. Here’s the question in my house – what should be done with the oil that separates from the peanut/almond/nut butters? Mix it? Dump it? Drink it? What is its make up? I assume it is poly, but does it get rancid in the jar? And if I’m supposed to mix it in why do they fill it to the brim so that mixing it is a guaranteed disaster?

  50. olive oil does not have a ratio omega6:omega3 of 3:1 but rather 13:1 on most sources.. Can you confirm that number ?
    Which is by the way the same ratio found in avocado oil

  51. With all the confusing and technical labeling and information I have read over many years, the BEST and MOST MEMORABLE way to categorize vegetable fats I have ever heard, was by dividing them into “fruit oils” (good) and “seed oils” (bad). So simple.

  52. Will any Interesterified Fats be listed on the label? How will we know if they are in products we buy?

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