Yesterday I wrote about which fats to avoid while following the Paleo diet or in fact ANY diet. Today I will talk about the fats to eat on the Paleo diet. Please keep in mind that if you are not on the Paleo diet and are eating starchy carbs you will run the risk of gaining weight because of the combination of starches and fat. It is best to eat these healthy fats, but only in moderation. Of course, if you are already Paleo, then adding more healthy fat will not be an issue.
The Right Fats to Eat
The best fats for the Paleo diet saturated fats from animal and plant sources. These are the fats we evolved to eat. The easiest source of fat for our ancestors to find and utilize was from animals. Fat from hunted animals would have been rendered (cooked until clear liquid oil was removed from the fatty tissue) and might have been stored in sausage links made from the intestines of the animal, as some more modern hunter-gatherer societies have done. Since it is saturated, it would have become hard at room temperature and would have generally stayed hard until needed. Other sources of oil such as coconut, palm oil, and olive oil would have required some neolithic technology to produce. But they are all terrific sources of fat.
- Coconut oil
- Poultry fat
- Butter or ghee
- Olive oil
- Palm oil
Coconut and Palm oils
One of the best fats on the list is coconut oil. It is 92% saturated fat It is very popular in Paleo circles since it is stable when heated heat and it is highly beneficial. It can last for up to two years at room temperature without going rancid. It is very good for heart disease:
…virgin coconut oil, which was obtained by wet process, had a beneficial effect in lowering total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and low density lipoproteins (LDL). The effects were uniformly beneficial. In serum and tissues, very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol levels were lowered and HDL-cholesterol was increased. The polyphenol fraction of virgin coconut oil was also found to prevent in vitro LDL-oxidation. We know that oxidized cholesterol can initiate the process of atherosclerosis—the fatty acids in coconut oil prevent this oxidation.
It is anti-microbial and antifungal. Coconut oil contains lauric acid and monolaurin which are anti-microbial agents that can kill or stop the growth of viruses and bacteria.
Many bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics but herbal oils such as the oils of oregano and the major fatty acid from coconut oil, lauric acid, which the body turns into the monoglyceride, monolaurin, are showing great promise as anti-bacterial and anti-viral agents. Monolaurin, in particular, is being shown to be useful in the prevention and treatment of severe bacterial infections, especially those that are difficult to treat or are antibiotic resistant…. Read on…
And because it is a medium chain fatty acid it is easier to digest.
Palm oil is one of the best sources of vitamin E.
Palm oil is only 9 percent polyunsaturated, compared to safflower, which is 75 percent polyunsaturated. In terms of the absolute amount of vitamin E, compared to safflower oil, palm oil has a somewhat lower level of alpha-tocopherol, more than double the gamma-tocopherol, and large amounts of tocotrienols, which are another important part of the vitamin E complex that are completely absent in safflower oil. The combined absolute value of tocopherol and tocotrienol forms of vitamin E is 46 percent higher in palm oil than safflower oil.
Since we evolved eating animal fats we know they are safe and healthy for us to eat. The problem comes in when these fats are combined with carbohydrates, especially refined carbs. That is when heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and more can show up. It is best to limit the consumption of carbohydrates when eating more fat in general and especially saturated fats.
We all know olive oil. It has bee touted as a health food for years. And that hasn’t changed. It is mostly a mono-saturated fat which means it’s unstable when heated. I find it best not to cook with it at all, just drizzle it on after the cooking is done. The best olive oils are extra virgin, the first pressing of the olives. This gives the best taste and color to the oil. Some olive oils have a nice peppery bit to them. Use this oil up quickly so that it doesn’t go rancid. You can put it in the refrigerator but is will solidify, so put it in a jar so that you can scoop it out.
Butter or Ghee
This is not a Paleo diet food, since our hunter-gatherer ancestors would not have kept cows. Butter is strictly a product of farming. But it is a highly beneficial fat and worth adding.The best type of butter is grass-fed, raw butter as it contains the most nutrition. If you cannot get raw, then look for grass-fed butter that has been pasteurized. You will still get some of its benefits.
Ghee is clarified butter. This means that moisture and milk solids have been removed making butter easy to digest.
Butter contains many nutrients that protect against heart disease such as lecithin, antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin E and selenium. It is also a good source of cholesterol.
Butter is also a good dietary source cholesterol. What?? Cholesterol an anti-oxidant?? Yes indeed, cholesterol is a potent anti-oxidant that is flooded into the blood when we take in too many harmful free-radicals–usually from damaged and rancid fats in margarine and highly processed vegetable oils.3 A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.
Those same antioxidants can also prevent cancer.
Actually many of the saturated fats in butter have strong anti-cancer properties. Butter is rich in short and medium chain fatty acid chains that have strong anti-tumor effects.6 Butter also contains conjugated linoleic acid which gives excellent protection against cancer.
Vitamin A and the anti-oxidants in butter–vitamin E, selenium and cholesterol–protect against cancer as well as heart disease. Click here for more…
Butter helps support healthy immune system. It can also protect against arthritis and hardening of the arteries and cataracts. The vitamin D in butter can help prevent osteoporosis. It is a good source of iodine which supports the thyroid ans so will prevent goiter. There are even more health benefits. Click here.to learn more.
All of these fats play an important role in our health. Now, if you are intending to go Paleo, you now know which fats to eat on the Paleo diet and also which fats to avoid.