How to Ditch Processed Foods: What Fats Should You Be Consuming

by lydia on May 25, 2011

One of the best steps you can take towards better health is to simply ditch processed foods and transition to real whole foods. To some that could mean entirely gutting your pantry leaving nothing left to utilize in your kitchen, and needing to make a clean start. In an effort to help those who want to take it one step at a time, let me break it down for you in order of importance (at least how I see it). The top two things you should change in your S.A.D. pantry to make it a REAL FOOD pantry are the fats/oils and meats you choose and consume. Today I am going to discuss the fats you should be eating, and hopefully help some of you to ditch a major health hazard in your life.

Healthy fats

You have probably heard the politically ‘correct’ nutrition advice that you should reduce intake of fats in your diet, particularly saturated animal fats. However, the low fat craze hasn’t really worked, just look at the increase in obesity in our nation, along with diabetes, heart conditions as well as a whole plethora of other issues. Fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in the diet; they also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances.

Fats as part of a meal slow down nutrient absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they acts as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption and for a host of other processes. We have been blaming the wrong substance for the cause of our nations health epidemic. Clearly something is wrong with the theories we read in the popular press, and with what is used to bolster sales of low-fat concoctions and cholesterol free foods.

The notion that saturated fats per se cause heart disease as well as cancer is not only facile, it is just plain wrong.  If eating saturated fat caused heart disease and weight gain (which is what we have been told by ‘on high’), then eliminating those fats should have resulted in a decline in heart disease and an increase in weight loss! But look around you – that’s not what happened! Consuming good saturated fats do not make you fat, it’s quite the opposite. It is indeed true that some fats are bad for us, but it’s not the saturated fats that are to blame,  let’s take a look at which ones are causing our ill health. (source – ‘Nourishing Traditions’ and ‘Eat Fat Lose Fat’).

The Truth About Polyunsaturated Oils

The commercial oils that most Americans consume are extracted by toxic chemicals at high temperatures, a process that turns them rancid, destroys their nutrients, and produces free radicials (reactive molecule fragments that steal electrons from molecules in a process called oxidation, which damages cells.) These free radicals can contribute to a host of diseases, including cancer, hearth disease, premature aging, autoimmune disease, digestive disorders, and infertility.

Science has shown that even when cold pressed (as are many “natural health food” products), polyunsaturated oils consumed in anything but small amounts can contribute to many disease conditions, including increased risk of cancer and heart disease; immune system dysfunction; damage to the liver, reproductive organs, and lungs; digestive disorders; diminished learning ability; impaired growth; and weight gain.

Some experts tout these oils because they contain omega-6 essential fatty acids, but most Americans consume ample amounts of these fats from the other foods (such as legumes, grains, nuts, green vegetables, olive oil, and animal fats), and excessive amounts can be harmful, resulting in an unhealthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. (source Mary Enig from ‘Eat Fat Lose Fat’)

How Margarine & Shortening  Are Made

Manufacturers start with the cheapest seed oils, extracted at high temperatures and pressures from corn, cottonseed, soybeans, safflower seeds and canola. The last fraction of oil is removed with hexane, a toxic solvent. The oils, already rancid from the extraction process, are steam cleaned. This destroys all the vitamins and antioxidants, but pesticides and solvents remain. The oils are mixed with a finely ground nickel catalyst. The oils are then put in a reactor where at high temperatures and pressures, they are flooded with hydrogen gas. The molecular structure is rearranged – what goes into the reactor is a liquid oil, what comes out is a smelly, lumpy, grey semi-solid. Soap-like emulsifiers are mixed in to remove all the lumps. The oil is steam cleaned (again!) to remove the odor of chemicals. The oil is then bleached to get rid of the grey color. Synthetic vitamins and artificial flavors are mixed in. A natural yellow color is added to margarine – synthetic coloring is not allowed! The mixture is then packaged in blocks or tubs and promoted to the public as a health food. (source – pamphlet ‘All About Trans Fats’, published by the Weston A. Price Foundation).

(photo credit)

Fats to Ditch

Canola oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, safflower, sunflower, any type of ‘butter’ spread or margarine, vegetable shortening are all unstable/unhealthy fats that you will most definitely want to pitch in the trash if you want your health to improve. Be sure to check your food labels as well for these types of oils.  These oils are a huge cause of many health issues in this modern day. These kinds of fats/oils increase heart disease, interfere with immune function, inhibit the body’s use of omega 3’s, are associated with increased asthma, cancer and decreased fertility, as well as contribute to weight gain.

Good Fats To Consume

Good quality butter, coconut oil, pastured lard, tallow, palm oil, olive oil, sesame oil, schmaltz, duck/goose fat, whole eggs, cream are all excellent sources of fat to add to your real food kitchen. These kinds of saturated fats help to actually lower heart disease, enhance immune function and the body’s use of omega 3’s, saturated fats are needed for the proper functioning of the lungs, help boost metabolism and help with weight loss, as well as contain nutrients the fight against cancer and promote fertility.

Getting Started With Good Fats

Making the transition from processed oils to good fats really doesn’t have to be difficult. In my opinion the best bet is to ditch any of the above mentioned oils immediately and replace them with the good ones listed. Everyone is probably familiar with butter, and who can deny that butter just tastes better than those tubs of spread anyway. So go ahead give yourself the freedom to enjoy good quality butter with no guilt. Even regular pasteurized butter from the supermarket is a much healthier choice than margarine or spreads. Do not make this a cost issue, because in the long run it will cost you your very health. I can’t tell you how much healthier I have become since switching to good fats, and believe me, I eat A TON of butter. (I no longer suffer from asthma, that’s pretty amazing to me and very worth paying for the price of butter vs. some cheap tub of spread).  So start with butter, you can even cook on medium heat with it. You can also learn to make ghee which is essentially clarified butter and more stable for higher heat cooking, not to mention it tastes amazing, and even those with some dairy sensitivites find they can tolerate ghee. Additional cooking fats that are good are lard, coconut oil and tallow. Coconut oil is the most expensive of these and I reserve using coconut oil for adding to smoothies and my tea, and other goodies. (see this post for more ideas to use coconut oil ). Regardless of the price of coconut oil, I would highly recommend using it. There are so many health conditions that can be reversed by adding coconut oil, not to mention the energy you get and weight loss benefits. And who wouldn’t pay an arm and a leg for energy and weight loss?!! I personally use lard for all my cooking – everything I saute on the stove gets sauteed in lard. Everything! Lard is very affordable and relatively easy to procure, just locate your nearest farmer or market to get some pastured lard. Lard also contains a good amount of vitamin D, so to me this is a must have in your ‘larder’.

A note about adding fats to your diet: If you have been following a low fat diet you have essentially laid off your gallbladder, it will need time to readjust to actually working again by adding fats. Start slowly, and simply switch out what you used to use in your daily cooking and salad dressings. Over time you can add more and more fat to your diet as you are able and comfortable to do so. Your body will adjust to the fats and believe it or not, you will find yourself craving more fat! And guess what, that’s a very good thing! There are so many health ailments that can be turned around by reintroducing healthy fats into your diet, what are you waiting for?!!

For a complete guide on which fats to use in cooking, check out this awesome chart done by Lisa of Real Food Digest!

(photo credit)

For Further Reading

Know Your Fats

Eat Fat Lose Fat

‘The Oiling of America.’  Mary Enig, Sally Fallon

The Truth About Lard & Why You Should Use It

Why Butter Is Your Friend

The Benefits of Taking Coconut Oil

Fats Glorious Fats


Stay tuned for the next post in ‘How To Ditch Processed Foods: Choosing Healthy Meats’. To get inspired in your real food journey, be sure to check out the precursor to this series, ‘Transition to Real Food: One Day At a Time‘.  My goal is to post a step by step thorough approach as to how you can ditch processed foods forever affordably and realistically.

This post contributed to Real Food Wednesdays, Primal Cave and Fight Back Fridays.






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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa @ Real Food Digest May 27, 2011 at 11:52 am

Hi Lydia,
Thanks for posting about this. There is too much misinformation on fats and oils and its causing so many health problems.
I have a printable chart on my site that simplifies what fats and oils to use for cooking and what to avoid that especially those new to this information may find helpful;


lydia May 27, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Oh cool Lisa I will check out your chart and perhaps I will link up to it in my post ~ thanks!!


Raine September 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Hi Lydia – great post, there’s never enough well-written information and encouragement for people to kick the low-fat diet and go for the healthy fats, and why it’s important to do it. I shared this on my FB page today and hopefully it gives inspiration to someone who may be struggling with weight and health issues. I hope you and your family are doing well! :)


lydia September 23, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I agree Raine! Thanks for the link love! We are doing well finally through all the transition and settling in to our new house. Would love to catch up with you soon!


Mary @ Homemade Dutch Apple Pie May 21, 2012 at 8:32 am

Good post. Eating fat does not make you fat as long as it’s good fat. I used to eat low fat. Now I eat more fat than most people I know. And until recently I was actually underweight! One thing to note – don’t overdo on nuts. They are high in omega-6. I think it’s a common mistake for people on GAPS when using almond flour, etc.

Here is an easy, delicious way to get lots of good fat in your diet.


lydia May 21, 2012 at 8:39 am

I agree about the nuts Mary! I also need to disclaim that not everyone can just dive into massive amounts of fats without considering if they are digesting it or not –

Thanks for stopping by!


Darlene August 8, 2012 at 7:23 am

My daughter had her gall bladder removed a few years ago, so how are the fats processed in her body and what should her steps be to become healthier?


lydia August 9, 2012 at 6:43 am


She will need to be on supplement support for the rest of her life.

Check out this post;

I also do offer Nutrition & Wellness Coaching if she is interested in getting support!


Sylvia August 18, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Great Article, Lydia. I use a mix of coconut oil & butter to fry, daily…(a little less expensive) . I swear that, along with advancing Spiritually, I am getting younger. Just passed my 70th Birthday with ease….I east full fat everything now, where I was a zealous low-fat everything eater and obese. I also eat low fructose. Look up Sweet Poison, (David Gillespie, Author, for that).
Thanks for educating us….we really appreciate the effort you put in to do this, those of us who are converts…more power to you.
Sydney, Oz….♥♥


Reonne November 24, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Hi Lydia. I just found your site and I\’m reading everything about fats! I have a challenged gallbladder but I\’m determined to keep it. I\’ve been told not to eat any fats at all, including sticking to small amounts of the good fats, but after reading your articles I\’m beginning to wonder. I\’ve read the Ghee (clarified butter) is one of the healthiest forms of good fats, along with the others you recommend, but I don\’t see it mentioned here. I also recently purchased some raw, unpasteurized, unhomogenized kefir, which has zero fat, but lots of probiotics. I was wondering about starting to drink the raw milk from the same company. I\’ve heard that raw dairy products are the best for you. Anyway, I\’d appreciate your comments or perhaps you have already written articles addressing this issue. If so, can you provide me with the links? Thanks so much!


Reonne November 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm

p.s. I guess I should have finished the above article before commenting :) I see that you addressed Ghee and gallbladder. Any info on raw dairy?


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