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The truth about fats

By Liza Twohill
from Liza Twohill Holsitic Health

Fats are one of the most valuable foods in our diet. Along with carbohydrates, fats have undergone a major change since the introduction of industrialized food processing.

Fats serve four purposes in the diet:

  1. They provide the greatest amount of energy (yes more than carbohydrate) and contain important nutrients such as essential fatty acids, vitamins and sterols.
  2. Fats are required to make hormones and prostaglandins (which is anti-inflammatory)
  3. They make food taste better.
  4. Fats created satiety. By having fat in your diet messengers are sent throughout your body telling you that you are no longer hungry.

You may have heard of the terms saturated, mono-unsaturated, poly-unsaturated fats and trans fats. These terms indicate how stable fats are.

Saturated are the most stable and poly are the most unstable. If a fat is unstable it has the chance to go rancid easily and this is not good for your body. When a fat goes rancid it produces harmful free radicals which means toxins, pollutants and other harmful environmental chemicals can attach to these poly-unsaturated fats and travel around your body making you feel sick or impair your ability to repair and heal. Trans fats are the most toxic unsaturated fats, they are high in deep fried foods, chips, donuts, snack food, margarine, cooking oils (except olive oil) and take away food. Yes a lot of the foods we love to eat. My motto is to keep the balance in your diet and limit your intake of these nasty fats and include more of the ‘good’ fats. All fats and oils are made up of a combination of fatty acids. None is completely saturated or unsaturated – not even lard –as you may have thought.


Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) including omega 6 fatty acids (06) and omega 3 fatty acids (03), they are delicate and easily oxidized by light, air or heat. Oxidized fatty acids are what make an oil or fat rancid. Saturated fatty acids (SFAs) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are less susceptible to being oxidized and can stand up to more cooking heat than PUFAs can.


While both Omega 3’s (03) and 0mega 6’s (06), (remember, those are both PUFAs) are necessary nutrients for human health, Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory, but 0mega 6’s are inflammatory and can contribute to everything from heart disease to joint pain to skin problems. The key is to balance them. A good ratio of Omega 6s:Omega 3s is 1:1 to 4:1. The typical Western diet has devolved to around 20:1 to 40:1 of Omega 6:Omega 3, this is a significant factor in our inflated incidence of chronic inflammatory diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancers, digestive disorders, etc. It is interesting to note the differences in not only the amounts of 06 and 03 in all the oils in the charts below, but also the 06:03 ratios. You find much higher amounts of 06 and generally higher 06:03 ratios in the non-paleo oils than the paleo ones.


Some believe saturated fat are bad, this in not entirely true. Lard, fatty meat, coconut oil and saturated fat in general have been blamed for heart disease. Heart disease and obesity are only increasing in the Western world, and it is not because we are all eating too much saturated fat: it is because of inflammation caused by Western foods, including corn oil, safflower oil and others on that list.


Notice the cooking heat for all these oils and fats. Some of the paleo oils should never be cooked with at all because they are so high in PUFAs and are easily oxidized. That is why some of the are marked “None” in the cooking temperature column and should just be used as salad dressings, etc. In general, use tallow, lard or coconut oil for cooking and extra virgin olive oil for lower-heat cooking. Also, for all those high-PUFA paleo oils, make sure you keep them in a cool, dark place and discard them six months after opening them.


Where do you get lard, and what on earth is that stuff? Lard is just clarified or rendered pig fat. You can save your previous bacon drippings in a glass jar and cook with that or you can find a local source for pasture-raised animal fat at your local health food store or wholefood shop.


Tallow is rendered fat from meat other than pork, often beef. You can make your own by buying some high-quality (no pesticides, preferably grass fed) animal fat, or save the excess oils from your Sunday roast. You can also buy grass-fed tallow online or at your local Health Food store. Most tallow you can buy in the store is hydrogenated, so you will want to stay away from that. And unless tallow or lard comes from a grass-fed source, you will want to avoid it, since its fatty-acid composition will not be totally favourable. Better to make your own if you can.

Fat servings

Serving Size varies per food – see list for details.

Child: 1-3 servings or more

Adult: 2-3 serves a day

Serving size = 13-15g fat

Choose from the following:

  • Olive oil or other oil (1 Tablespoon)
  • Coconut oil (1 Tablespoon)
  • Ghee (1 Tablespoon)
  • Lard (1 Tablespoon)
  • Nuts/seeds (25gms/ ¼ cup)
  • Chia seeds (1/4 cup/25g)
  • Avocado (1/2 of fruit)
  • Full-fat milk (1/2 cup)
  • Full cream Yogurt (1/2 cup)

How do you feel about fats now?

It can be a lot to wrap your head around but the truth about fats is that the right ones are so good for us!

Want to know more? Check out Lisa Twohill’s website for all her programs:


More about the author

Liza Twohill
Liza Twohill
– Liza Twohill Holsitic Health

Liza Twohill is a Naturopath specialising in Burnout & Chronic Stress

Liza Twohill has been a practicing health professional for more than two decades and is a leader in her field. Liza is a naturopath, business owner, educator, mentor, and researcher with more than 25yrs in clinical practice.

Liza specialises in burn-out and the impact chronic stress has on health outcomes. Most of her patients present with fatigue, anxiety, depression, food sensitivities and complex health issues. Liza has a high level of clinical knowledge, experience and expertise in the practical elements of patient care, the application of pathology, food as medicine and lifestyle medicine.

She is a Fellow of ATMS. She is also a member of Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine (ASLM), Australasian College Nutritional & Environmental Medicine (ACNEM) and Australasian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA)

Liza offers:

One on one appointments (in clinic & telehealth)

Online self-paced wholefood workshops

Online self-paced holistic health programs

12 weeks Navigating Burnout online program with Liza

Wholefood recipe books