Here is yet more excellent information about dietary fats and oils that will help in determining what’s best for your body and your growing child’s body. I’m taking this data from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.

For definitions of the various fats (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and their effects upon your body, see my article, Saturated Fats versus partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and trans fats.

Animal Fats

Toast and Butter


Butter is not only delicious, but is an excellent saturated fat that is good for cooking, assuming that it’s organic. Butter is not so good for cooking at very high heats, as the proteins in it cause it to burn — but it’s fantastic for sauteeing, frying eggs, and many other uses. (See my Butter versus Margarine article.)

Duck Fat and Goose Fat

Duck and Goose fat is semi-solid and consists of about 35% saturated fat, and 52% monounsaturated fat (which includes an antimicrobial ingredient known as palmitoleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid). Palmitoleic acid fights microbes in your intestines, which aids in you staying healthy and not so much catching some flu or bug. Duck and goose fat have around 13% polyunsaturated fat (which contains Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential oils). Many Europeans fry their potatoes with duck and goose fat.

Chicken Fat

Chicken fat is 31% saturated, 49% monounsaturated, including that microbe fighting palmitoleic acid, and 20% polyunsaturated. That 20% is dominated by the Omega-6, called linoleic acid. Depending on what chickens are fed determines how much Omega-6 and Omega-3 ratios. You can up the Omega-3 amount by feeding the chickens flax or fish meal. Chicken fat is considered inferior to Duck and Goose fat.


Lard (Pork Fat)

Lard is pork fat (pork is another name for a pig). Pork fat is semisolid and is 40% saturated fat, 48% monounsaturated and also has palmitoleic acid. Lard also has 12% polyunsaturated Omega-6 and Omega-3. You can tweak the Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio again by what you feed your pig. Lard is good for cooking with. It used to be very popular here in the United States a long time ago. It’s an excellent source of Vitamin D.

Beef and Mutton Fat

Beef and mutton (sheep) tallows are hard fats obtained from cattle, sheep, or horses. Tallow is 50-55% saturated fat, around 40% monounsaturated fat and a small amount of polyunsaturated fat (under 3%). Suet (fat from the cavity of the animal) has more saturated fat — 70-80%. Suet and tallow fat are stable (semisolid), and can be used for frying purposes. And again contain that antimicrobial palmitoleic acid. It doesn’t go rancid easily.

Tropical Oils

Tropical oils are vegetable oils that contain a lot of saturated fats.

Palm Oil

Palm oil is 50% saturated fat. You can keep palm oil at room temperature and it won’t go bad for a long time.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has an ingredient called lauric acid, which is also in mother’s milk. Lauric acid has strong antifungal and antimicrobial properties. That means that coconut oil protects from fungus and microbes. Like palm oil, coconut oil can be kept at room temperature and won’t go bad for a long time.

Vegetable Oils

Olive Oil

Olive Oil

Olive oil is 75% monounsaturated fat, called oleic acid, 13% saturated fat and 10% Omega-6 linoleic acid and 2% Omega-3 linoleic acid. Olive oil is good for salads. But use moderate temperatures when using Olive oil for cooking. Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, is rich in antioxidants.

Olive oil is a safe vegetable oil to use, but don’t overdo it — apparently, it will "collect" if you do. I mean, you will gain weight if you consume too much olive oil, compared to coconut oil or butter, which are more unlikely to cause a buildup of fat in your body.

Peanut Oil

Peanut oil contains 48% of the monounsaturated oleic acid, 18% saturated fat and 34% Omega 6 linoleic acid. That’s a lot of Omega 6. Peanut oil is relatively stable and can be used in stir fry. But don’t use too much.

Sesame Oil

Sesame Oil has 42% of the monounsaturated oleic acid, 15% saturated fats and 43% Omega-6 linoleic acid. Sesame oil is similar to peanut oil. It can be used for frying because its antioxidant properties are NOT killed off by the heat of cooking. The only problem is the amount of Omega-6 (linoleic acid) is definitely overdoing it — you can consume too much Omega-6 linoleic acid. So don’t use it that much.

Flax Seed Oil

Flax Seed oil contains 9% saturated fat, 18% monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, 16% Omega-6 and 57% Omega-3. Flax Seed oil takes the imbalance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 out the American diet. A little will go a long way. But it should always be refrigerated., and don’t use it to cook with.

Caveats …

Corn, Sunflower, Soybean and Cottonseed Oils

Corn, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed oils all have over 50% Omega-6 linoleic acid and not that much Omega-3 linoleic acid, except for soybean oil which has more Omega-3. Don’t use Safflower, Corn, Sunflower, Soybean or Cottonseed oils for cooking, frying or baking (can anyone say "oxidant" or "free radical"?). It’s better to steeply curtail using safflower, corn, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed and the next oil being discussed below.

Canola Oil

Canola oil comes from the rape seed, a member of the mustard seed family. Canola oil has 57% monounsaturated oleic acid, 23% Omega-6 and 10 to 15% Omega-3, and 5% saturated fat. Since one should consume more saturated fat than the other fats, not only is Canola oil up-side-down as far as the importance of fat consumed, but amount of Omega-6 and Omega-3 are overkill.

Not only that, but canola oil goes rancid easily. Baked goods using canola oil develop mold easily. If the canola oil has been "deodorized" (the odor has been removed), the Omega-3 has been transformed into a trans fat — meaning that the canola oil has been to a degree hydrogenated. Unfortunately, hydrogenated oil also goes by the name trans fat and is not healthy for your body. Hydrogenated oil is an ersatz (tricky or fake) saturated fat that has bad consequences when you eat it.  See Saturated Fats versus partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and trans fats.

Safflower Oil

Safflower oil contains nearly 80% Omega-6 linoleic acid. This oil easily goes rancid, is a bit over the top with the Omega-6. According to Nourishing Traditions, research is growing regarding the dangers of too much Omega-6 in the diet. Also there is not that much Omega-3 in safflower oil.

That’s the wrap-up. Bottom line is that it pays to know your fats and oils!

I hope this is of use to you.

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13 Comments for "What fats or oils are good for me (or not)?"

  1. Diane Vigil

    Another wonderful article, George. Thanks for giving us such point-by-point information.

  2. Lynn Cameron

    Wow, George, this is great info on fats all in one place that’s easy to read and to understand.

    I have a most delicious, healthful and safe way to cook foods in oil at high temperatures. I use a good quality coconut oil which doesn’t go rancid at high temperature and is a saturated fat which precludes it from being a trans fat. offers a number of choices. Here’s what I do to make that satisfying comfort food – fried potatoes in the oven:

    Lynn’s Oven-Fried Potatoes

    FYI: It is very good to eat a good fat with a high carb food like a potato because it keeps the sugar from ‘dumping’ into the bloodstream. Butter, sour cream and coconut oil are all good methods to ‘bind’ the carb for a slower release and less stress on the system.


  3. Diane Vigil

    Wow — thanks, Lynn. I took the liberty of moving your recipe to its own page so that it’s not buried here … because we’d all like to dive into some delicious potatoes on occasion.

    Re the combining of fat and potatoes, I guess remember seeing articles about rough peasant bread and pork fat. Perhaps that’s where they were going with that.

    But now we have an excuse to dump butter and sour cream on potatoes. And I would have thought that that was a decadent luxury.

  4. George Vigil

    Good info about good fat with potatoes. I didn’t know that saturated fat slows down the sugar from starchy foods entering the bloodsteam too fast. I can eat french fries again – using saturated fat!

  5. Bryan - oz4caster

    Hi folks. I just found your blog from Lynn’s posts regarding agave at Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s blog. In case you may be interested, I posted a table showing the omega-6, omega-3, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated percentages for a variety of fats and oils based on the USDA’s food nutrient data base. It’s in my post on Selecting Fats and Oils for Health.

    BTW, I like your blog and will be visiting again :)

  6. Diane Vigil

    Hi, Brian. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your compliments. Yes; I believe it’s good to get information about the types of fats and their effects on us, as the information generally given to the public (that is, easily available) is not always correct.

  7. What is protein?

    […] meaning all the "essential" amino acids are present. Apparently, proteins don't work well without dietary fat. Lucky us that the fat is already present in the meat and […]

  8. Lynn’s Oven-Fried Potatoes

    […] See also: What fats or oils are good for me (or not)? […]

  9. Ann

    Interesting except for the bit about Canola oil – looks like perfect oil to me. Has everything in it in the right proportions. You get plenty of saturated fat from butter and animal fat.

  10. Lynn Cameron

    George, I just read this again. It’s great to have as a refresher about all the oils in one easy-to-read place – thanks for the research you put into this. I’m putting a link to it at our Northern Adirondack Weston A. Price group site.

  11. Leland

    I’m a little bit concerned. You mention here that “…one should consume more saturated fat than the other fats…” which is wildly untrue. Our bodies are very good at creating saturated fats. They’re easy to store in our bodies for later breakdown for energy.

    The useful fats are actually Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated (which includes your omegas as you listed above). These are healthful for you, and have a strong link to reducing “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. I’m not sure if I can post hotlinks here, but I will try. Below is an article from the Harvard School of Public Health website, which comprehensively describes each type of fat.

    I like that you’ve broken down into percentages which types of fat are in each cooking oil and fat. I think it’s quite useful. I think this is just an important caveat. Great work.

  12. George Vigil

    Thanks Leland for your appreciation for my layman’s article.

    And you are most certainly entitled to your opinion about oils too.

  13. Diane Vigil

    Here’s some interesting information:
    6 Charts That Show How The War On Fat Was A Gigantic Mistake

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