I like to make sure I am eating a combination of both animal fats and plant based fats during the day so that I am getting a wide variety of nutrients and fatty profiles into my diet.
There are both similarities and differences between animal fats and plant fats, and there are also some types of fats that I won’t touch with a barge pole if I can help it!
‘Fat’ is a generic term used for any kind of lipid, which in an ester between fatty acids and glycerol.
Both plant fats and animal fats are triglycerides, which means they are molecules that are composed of one glycerol and 3 fatty acid chains. The primary difference between plant fats and animal fats are their ratios of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acid chains.
Animal fat has been vilified in the past (and still somewhat nowadays), due to the higher saturated fat content found in it.
For the last 50 years or so, people thought that saturated fat was the cause of heart disease, obesity, and other diseases.
But more and more people are starting to wake up to the fact that saturated fat is actually incredibly good for you and it is, in fact, sugar that is the primary cause of these things.
In truth, for pretty much the entire of human history, up until the latter half of the 20th century, fatty meats and organs from animals were prized as the most nutritious and delicious part of the animal.
Great Plant Fats
Coconut Oil is a wonderful fat that I pretty much use every day. Both for cooking, infatty teas/coffees and on my skin! It is full of medium chain fatty acids – caprylic acid, lauric acid, and capric acid. These are unlike the long chain fatty acids found in other plant-based fats because they are immediately processed by the liver (and therefore not stored as fat), anti-microbial and anti-fungal, and an excellent energy source if you need a quick pick-me-up. I like to use coconut oils in my fat bombs for this reason.
Some of the benefits of coconut oil listed on Dr. Axe’s website include:
- Proven Alzheimer’s Disease Natural Treatment
- Reduces Inflammation and Arthritis
- Cancer Prevention and Treatment
- Improves Memory and Brain Function
- Prevents Gum Disease and Tooth Decay
- Improves Type II Diabetes
- Prevents Osteoporosis
MCT Oil is the pure form of medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut oil. It’s a little pricey but you really can’t get a better form of plant fat in my opinion. Coconut oil is composed of around 60% MCTs whereas MCT oil is, obviously 100% MCTs! I absolutely love to blend in some MCT oil into my early morning hot drink or in the middle of the afternoon for a boost.
Olive Oil is the classic, healthy plant oil. I simply drizzle it over my salads and vegetables. Or onto a bowl or soup. Remember not to cook with olive oil as it has a low smoke point. This means it will degrade and possibly produce harmful compounds if it is heated too much.
Avocado oil is a beautiful oil that I also use for salad dressings etc. I also like to make homemade mayonnaise with my avocado oil which you can then add different flavours too for different meals. I often make garlic mayo or chilli mayo to dip my veggies in.
Macadamia oil is a fairly light and slightly nutty oil. I use this to make Asian salad dressings.
Plant Based Fats to Avoid
Processed vegetable oils such as:
These types of oils are highly processed, in some cases going through a lengthy chemical process in order to mass produce them.
They are high in ‘trans-fats’ which are highly toxic and associated with heart disease. They are also high in omega 6 whilst being low in omega 3 fats – which contributes to inflammation in the body.
Great Animal Fats
Lard is pig fat, and it can be used in any way that you would use butter. Vegetables and meat are delicious cooked in lard. It has minimal flavour (maybe a little ‘porkiness’). I also love to save my bacon fat – it’s fantastic for cooking eggs and vegetables in.
My absolute favourite! I use Kerrygold most of the time but I can also get hold of unpasteurised, grass-fed butter which is an absolute treat.
Ghee is basically butter that has had all the milk proteins removed. It’s an excellent choice for anyone that can’t handle dairy (and therefore butter). Many people who can’t eat butter find that they are fine with ghee.
Tallow is beef fat, and it is incredibly stable which makes it the perfect fat for
frying or deep frying.
Such as chicken fats goose fats and duck fats. Poultry fats are not as stable as lard or tallow and therefore don’t last as long. But they are absolutely delicious so this probably isn’t a problem you’re going to face!
When choosing your animal fats it is best if you can buy the highest quality that you can afford. Free range/grass-fed and organic are ideal. Animals (us included) store toxins in our fat cells, so we want our animal fats to be as clean as possible.
Obviously, high welfare fats are not going to be within everyone’s budget in which case just do the best you can.
Eating High Fat on a Keto Diet
When you’re following a keto diet, you want to be getting around 70-85% of your daily calories from fat.
As a rule of thumb, in the beginning, I made sure I added 3 Tablespoons of fat to each meal. So that’s 1 tablespoon to cook with and 2 tablespoons of mayo or butter or plant oils added to the meal. In addition to this, you need to eat high fat foods such as fatty cuts of meat, avocados, olives, eggs and cheese (if you eat dairy).
Add a couple of fatty teas to your day and you can easily get your fats in every day in a delicious and healthy way.
I hope you found this helpful, let me know in the comments below!