February’s Big FAT Challenge

Because Fat Tuesday is coming up this month, I thought it would be only appropriate to have a challenge about—you guessed it—FAT!

Oh no, you moan. Do I need to cut my saturated fat intake? Nope. Cut my total fat intake? Nope again.

February's Big FAT Challenge

If you’ve been reading this blog much, you may already suspect what the challenge is. This month, I am encouraging you to increase healthy natural fats and cut out fake fats

During this month’s wellness posts we’re going to talk more about why adequate natural fats are imperative to brain function and optimal nutrition. We’ll also talk about what is wrong with fats like margarine, canola oil, and vegetable shortening. For now, I’m just going to give you a couple quick tips to start you on your (fat) journey.

Focus on natural fats

  • Butter (preferably grass-fed brands like Kerrygold)
  • Coconut Oil
  • Palm Oil
  • Lard from pastured pigs (you can easily do this yourself by purchasing the back fat from a local farmer)
  • Tallow from grass-fed cows (you can also make this easily yourself by purchasing fat from a local farmer)
  • Olive Oil (but don’t use it for cooking over high heat)
  • Macadamia Nut Oil (but only use over low heat) 
  • Flaxseed Oil (never heat)

Stay away from

  • All trans-fats
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Margarine and other “buttery spreads”
  • Canola Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Partially Hydrogenated Oils
  • Peanut Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil

This is not an exhaustive list, but a great place to start. I feel certain you’ll enjoy the taste of fats from natural sources and your body will certainly thank you for providing it with a fantastic source of energy and nutrition!

This post is linked up with Healthy Habits Tuesday.


  1. Thanks for the list of good/bad fats!

  2. Fats get a bad rap. I’m interested in why you included grapeseed oil in your list of bad fats. I’ve been told that it is a good one (and not by fat-haters, lol).

    • Trisha Gilkerson says:

      While its not one of the worst oils (think margarine, canola, crisco). Grapeseed oil is very high in omega 6’s most of us don’t need any help in getting omega 6’s. Most of us have O6:O3 ratios that are way off and should avoid oils with high O6 levels. Does that make sense?

  3. I too was querying the grapeseed oil. But after seeing your response I think I understand better. I still wouldn’t put it in the list of things to avoid though, maybe a limit list not avoid list

  4. I’m surprised that lard is listed as a good fat. Yeah, it is a natural fat, but how is it different from say beef fat? I’m just going by what I usually hear, to stay away from pork which we don’t eat and haven’t for a long time. Good fats are definitely important!

    • Trisha Gilkerson says:

      There are some differences between beef fat and lard. But, beef fat also made the healthy list (tallow). We’ll be talking more about why these fats made the healthy list this month. If you follow my blog, you’ll find I question conventional medical wisdom in lieu of finding out what the research has actually found…it can be surprising. It certainly has been for me on my journey towards health!

  5. Now I want to know HOW to incorporate all of these healthy fats.

    • Trisha Gilkerson says:

      Start using these fats in place of any unhealthy fats you might be using! Make some chocolate peanut-butter candies. The whole family will probably love them, I know my kids gobble them up. Making eggs, add extra bacon grease, lard, or butter to them when frying them. If you’re eating a lean cut of meat, I always add grease or lard to that too. Avocados are a great source of fat. If you like them I enjoy adding them to salads or on top of a burger. I also like making guacamole for a taco salad (without the chips or beans) or on a steak or chicken. If you’re not much of an avocado person, you can hide them in all sorts of foods! My kids think they hate avocados, but I make chocolate “pudding” with the primary ingredient being avocado and also put them in smoothies for the kids. Just a few ideas for you, but I think you have just given me a great post idea!

  6. I cooked Olive Oil over high heat last night…good thing opening the doors turned the fire alarm off on it’s own…oops…

  7. What if you have allergies to the healthy fats you have listed? We have been using canola and safflower oil for my son for his allergies. What is wrong with those two?

    • Trisha Gilkerson says:

      The problem with these oils… wow, that could be a whole blog post in itself! (maybe that is a good idea). The short answer, they are highly processed oils. They are not stable under heat and their processing necessitates they go through heating and bleaching deodorizing. They are not oils that are come by naturally. Because canola is a polyunsaturated fat, it’s sensitive to heat, which causes it to go rancid quickly (in fact, it probably is rancid by the time it reaches your home but you don’t know it because it’s been deodorized). Any Omega-3’s that may have been there are now eliminated, and you are left with small amounts of trans-fats.

      There are lots of healthy alternatives! Is your son allergic to all of them?

  8. Dairy, nuts and extra virgin olive oil. He reacted to that because of the protein. We have not been cleared for seeds so we can’t try flaxseed yet. I have an appt with the nutritionist and allergist next week so I will ask about palm oil. If that is not an option, I am not sure what we will do given that we were told that our only options are canola and safflower. Beef fat? maybe I can try whole foods to see if they have it since he can only eat grass fed beef. This is all new….. thanks for any feedback.

    • Trisha Gilkerson says:

      I’m sorry to hear there are so many food allergies your son is struggling with! I know how frustrating that can be.

      What about coconut oil, palm oil, beef or pork fat? You may try a butcher who butchers grass-fed and pastured animals. It’s likely you could get the fat from these animals very cheaply and render the fat yourself. We purchase grass-fed meat and always get the fat so I can render the oils myself!

      Just so you’re aware, your nutritionist probably won’t agree with me on the fats unless they are more natural/holistic health minded.

  9. I’d really like to learn more about using palm shortening or other substitutes for shortening (Crisco) in baking. We have several treasured family recipes that call for shortening, and I’d like to feel better about making them for my family, but getting the taste and texture right is very important.

    • Trisha Gilkerson says:

      Great question and I do think there should be an acceptable substitute. I’ll be sure to address this in my upcoming series on fats!

  10. I disagree with not cooking with olive oil over high heat. Olive oil has stronger structure than other oils and can be used for frying more times than others, without losing its nutrinional ingredients. It is highly recommented to use it for its high quality.

    • Trisha Gilkerson says:

      Hi Efi,

      While it’s true that olive oil is unlike many other vegetable oils in that it’s made up of primarily monounsaturated fatty acids and overall has a more chemically stable structure, this simply means that oxygen radicals are not as likely to interact with olive oil. This is why it is far superior to many other vegetables. But, that doesn’t negate the fact that it is true that heat can destroy the structure of olive oil.

      Olive oil has a very low smoke point, only about 300 degrees. There have been numerous studies that show that when olive oil is heated to higher temperatures it destroys some of the key phenol compounds in the oil. Some of these phenols are destroyed very very quickly by heat.

      Because of this, I can not recommend individuals to use olive oil for high heat cooking. More heat-stable oils for high heat cooking.


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