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In my last article I gave a little personal background on my decade of low-fat vegan dieting and how I believe it contributed to my ill-health, as well as gave you a bunch of reasons why fat is incredibly necessary for the optimal functioning of the human body. Here I have prepared a little guide on fats, as they apply to someone on the autoimmune protocol.
Saturated Fats are highly stable and are the best fats to use for cooking. All of the carbon atoms are saturated, which lends to their dense structure and being solid at room temperature. They are found in tropical oils and animal fats.
Monounsaturated Fats are moderately stable and best for cold applications. They are missing two hydrogen atoms and instead have one double bond between carbons, making them liquid at room temperature. Contrary to popular belief, monounsaturated fats should not be cooked with and should be kept in an opaque container away from any heat source. They are found in olives, avocados, nuts and their oils.
Polyunsaturated Fats are highly unstable because they have many missing hydrogens and lots of double bonds between carbon atoms. They are extremely reactive and oxidize when heated, exposed to light or improperly stored. They are found in seed oils like canola, cottonseed, soybean, safflower, sunflower, etc.
Since the autoimmune protocol cuts out processed foods, it is easy to avoid the industrial seed oils prevalent in our modern diet, but the one mistake I see a lot of people make is cooking with olive oil. You should always be cooking with a saturated fat. My favorite is coconut oil, but I also use tallow or lard frequently.
Quality is extremely important when you are looking at sourcing healthy fats for your pantry. It is very important to get fat from animals that have been raised organically and grass-fed or pastured. If you are purchasing tropical oils like coconut or palm, make sure to buy organic. For olive and avocado oils, make sure to purchase from a reputable company that cold-presses and stores their product in dark containers (monounsaturated fats are easily oxidized by heat and light).
Fats to use on the Autoimmune Protocol:
Fats Suitable For Cooking (Saturated)Coconut Oil
Duck and Goose Fat
Fats Suitable For Eating Cold (Monounsaturated)Olive Oil
Otherwise Healthy Fats Avoided on the Autoimmune Protocol:
Cold-Processed Seed Oils (sesame, flax)
Fats Everyone Should Avoid:
Margarines and spreads
Partially hydrogenated oils
Industrial seed oils (canola, cottonseed, corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, peanut, grapeseed)
What is your favorite way to incorporate healthy fats into your diet?