We know that on the Phase One Diet includes plenty of foods high in fat––nuts, avocados, fish, grass fed meats, etc. While years ago, health-types might have balked at this idea, we know that the paradigm on fats is changing. There are fats that are, in fact, beneficial for brain health, heart health, mood and skin. We also know that it is not fat that makes us gain weight, necessarily––an idea that was long held as conventional wisdom.
But like many other components of our diet, our knowledge of fats are more nuanced than “all are good” or “all are bad”. Many of the fats found in fish, walnuts, avocados and olive oil are known to promote heart health. Conversely, hydrogenated fats and trans-fats are thought to contribute to heart disease. Typically, these are the types of fats found in refined oils, vegetable oils, margarine and shortening. The irony is, for years people have been consuming these in lieu of animal fats, thinking they were doing themselves and their heart a favor!
While on Phase One, it is important try to stick to extra virgin and unrefined oils as much as possible. Some types of refined oil are better for cooking at high temperatures, but always look to avoid hydrogenated fats and oils. You can find more information on oils and cooking in the Getting Started section of our site.
What about animal fats, particularly the saturated fats that are believed to contribute to heart disease? There are many health professionals who believe that saturated animals fats found in meats might have less to do with heart problems than previously supposed; many are coming forth saying that diets high in sugar and simple carbohydrates have more to do with poor heart health than the consumption of meats containing saturated fat.
As an example of how this relationship is more nuanced than previously supposed, eating a diet rich in meats (which contain both protein and animal fat) such as the Phase One Diet can promote weight loss. Being overweight is a known risk factor for heart disease. So was it the saturated fat that promoted heart disease, necessarily? Regardless, while on the Phase One Diet, it is suggested to regularly look for leaner cuts of meat, particularly if heart problem are of a concern to you––the Phase One Diet is malleable in such a way that you can eschew saturated fats if you so desire.
There is one thing for those of us adhering the Phase One Diet as it relates to fat that we should all be aware of. Many of the animals raised in the conventional way are routinely fed hormones, antibiotics and and unnatural diet heavy in grains and corn. That feed is often contaminated with mycotoxins. Subsequently, these dietary contaminants find themselves into the fat of the animals we then consume, constituting a threat for human exposure to mycotoxins and unnatural hormones.
This is why we stress organic and grass-fed meats as often as possible. Consuming meat from animals raised on a diet that would be natural to them in their natural environment is an important part of the Phase One Diet. Meats farmed in this way are generally considered healthier, overall. Wild-caught fish and game is another good option. Furthermore, particularly the case of grass-fed ruminants (cows, bison, lamb, etc.), the fat content is balanced in favor of Omega 3 fats. This type of meat also contains more nutrients, such as beta carotene. Often, it will be leaner than grain-fed counterparts. Overall, this type of meat is a better option for those on the Phase One Diet.
For those trying to achieve better health via their diet, being aware of the types of fat you eat holds far greater benefit than avoiding it all together.