Toxic Fats vs Healthy Fats

The past two weeks I have talked about sugar and alcohol, and how they often serve as obstacles to achieving radiant health. I think it's safe to say that most people know that sugar and alcohol can be toxic to the body and mind. We understand they are not great for us, so perhaps we make an effort to limit our consumption of these substances when we want to improve our health. 

This week I would like to discuss a third toxin, a group of extremely unhealthy fats that many people ingest with wild abandon, oblivious to how dangerous they are. The huge problem, in my opinion, is that these fats are prevalent in the processed food industry. They are found in almost all packaged foods- even salad dressings, crackers, and nuts in the health food section of the grocery store! Whole Foods uses these fats to create items for the hot and cold bar!

What exactly are these toxic fats? 

They include: 

Highly refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils (PUFAs), like:  

  • canola oil

  • cottonseed oil

  • corn oil

  • soybean oil

  • safflower oil

  • sunflower oil

Manufactured trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), like:

  • margarine

  • vegetable shortening

These fats are unstable; they oxidize easily, forming free radicals that wreak havoc in our bodies. Here is a bit of geeky science from the amazing Dr. Cate Shanahan:

The refining process [used to manufacture these oils] not only strips away antioxidants, it makes PUFAs toxic by exposing them to heat, pressure, metals and bleaching agents. This chemically alters the molecules into a wide variety of potent toxins with long names like 4-hydroxynonanal and 4-hydroxyhexanol, aldehydes, and others. These molecules are toxic because they promote free-radical reactions that damage our cellular machinery including mitochondria, enzymes, hormone receptors, and DNA.

(Take a listen to this enlightening episode of the Model Health Show, in which Shawn Stevenson interviews Dr. Cate, or check out this post from Dr. Mark Hyman.) 

If you want to improve your health, it is imperative to limit your consumption of these fats. Now, I didn't say eliminate, because I think it might be a bit too obsessive to attempt to do so. While you can read ingredient lists in grocery stores, going out to eat is a different story. The majority of restaurants use these yucky fats because they are cheap and shelf-stable.

I know that dining in restaurants is a pleasurable part of life, so I've come to terms with eating a few PUFAs or PHOs and knowing it's not going to kill me. For example, I wasn't going to avoid eating the occasional taco in Mexico because I saw a jug of canola oil by the grill. (But, I did choose to pass on the chips served with guacamole, bringing my own bag of jicama and cucumber dipping slices instead.) 

Healthy fat, on the other hand, is really good for you. It's satiating, delicious, and necessary for optimal metabolism, brain function and energy. Just make sure you are choosing the right fats! 

  • Healthy fats: avocado oil, unrefined coconut oil, coconut butter, butter, lard, ghee, olive oil; fatty foods like: avocados, macadamia nuts, bacon, fatty fish, full fat pastured dairy (unless you are intolerant)

  • Toxic fats: refined vegetable oils (sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, canola, soy, corn) and trans fats and PHOs (margarine, shortening, fake butter, essentially all processed junk foods/pastries)

Sometimes ingredient lists can be deceiving. Remember to watch out for words like: 

  • trans-fat

  • trans-fatty acids

  • hydrogenated

  • partially hydrogenated

Over the past three weeks I've talked about what I call the Toxic Trifecta: sugar, alcohol and fake fats. Try a month without these three and see how you feel! I promise, there is another level of radiant, optimal health waiting for you. Release the toxins from your life and Awaken your Glow!

Did this post inspire or overwhelm you? 

Does it sound difficult to make these changes on your own?

Are you overwhelmed by a constant stream of health information?

Are you exhausted from diets and thinking about food?

Are you ready to release weight? 

Are you ready to end dieting forever?

Are you ready to end a sugar addiction?

Are you ready to eat delicious, satiating foods and never feel deprived?

If you answered "yes!" to any of those questions, it's time to contact me at to learn more about my coaching services.

I believe it is your birthright to achieve radiant health and I know that I can help you transform your life. 

I can't wait to hear from you!