Fat Lessons

creamToday I’m going to start a little series.  I don’t know how many posts it will be.  As many as it takes.  And I’m going to keep them short.  They’ll be mini-bite lessons on fats.  (Oils are fats too.)  The kinds of fats you eat can make or break you.  Because sorting out fat terminology drove me crazy, I’ll start there.  Everybody throws these terms around:  saturated, unsaturated, MUFAs, PUFAs, omega-3s, omega-6s, linolenic acid, linoleic acid, MCT, and SCFA.  If my eyes glaze over reading posts and comment threads about fats, I’ll bet many of you out there have the same problem.  Let’s remedy that in little bits.

First off, fats are made of fatty acids, three of them in fact, bonded to a backbone called a glycerol.  Thus you get “TRIGLYCERIDES.”  Fats.

Mostly what health writers are talking about when they talk about “fats,” is the kind of fatty acids that make up the package called the triglyceride.  What kind of fatty acids are involved.  Fatty acids can be saturated.  Or unsaturated.  Or MUFAs.  Or PUFAs, omega-3s.  And so on.

THERE ARE TWO MAIN WAYS TO CATEGORIZE FATS, BY HOW SATURATED THEIR FATTY ACIDS ARE OR HOW LONG THEIR FATTY ACIDS ARE.  This is why it gets so confusing to read health articles on fats.  That and the fact that foods, oils, and fats are made up of many types of those terms I listed up there.  For example, olive oil is a mixture of several different types of fat.  So it gets confusing.

Today we’ll outline the saturation/unsaturation terms.  Later we’ll outline them (rather easily) by length.

Here is the outline for your head.  Don’t think about foods for now.  Foods, natural fats, and natural oils are a mix of all these terms you and I have spinning around our heads.  Today, just think of terminology.  Later we’ll apply it to food.


     I.  Saturated fats:  All carbons are full-up.  No double bonds.  Not much room for chemical reactions to take place.  Stable.  Solid.

     II.  Unsaturated fats:  Some carbons are double bonded, leaving room for chemical reactions to take place.  Liquid.

          1.  Monounsaturated fats  (MUFAs):  Only one double bond so less reactive than PUFAs.  More stable.

          2.  Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs):  More than one double bond.  This makes them more reactive and less stable than saturated fats and MUFAs.

               a.  Omega-3

               b.  Omega-6

               c.  Omega-9

That’s it.

What do I want you to notice?  I want you to notice that omega-3s are PUFAs.   I want you to notice that saturated fats are the most chemically stable.  Then monounsaturated fats (MUFAs).  Then polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs).

That wasn’t too taxing, was it?  Do your eyes glaze over when you read those fat articles?  Do you wish somebody would figure out fats and stick to their story?  Do you worry about fat?  Do you try to stay low-fat or avoid certain fats?  I’d love to know.  And know why.

Have a good weekend.  It’s Labor Day weekend here, and we have company coming for a real good time!  My children are a little worried, “Mom, I don’t think they’re going to like our food…”  My poor kids.  Traumatized.


11 thoughts on “Fat Lessons

  1. Jo tB

    Terri, good start. Yes, it can get confusing at times. I just make the classification of healthy and unhealthy. Healthy are all natural fats occuring in animals. Unhealthy fats are extensively manufactured fats (i.e. seed oils, margarine, low fat spreads, etc). As I read years ago, if you can’t make the fat/oil at home, then we should consider it as unhealthy. I try to avoid the technical terms as much as possible, because before you know it, you are using the word in the wrong context.

    I have the feeling that your children don’t have to worry about what the guests will think of your food choices. Eating the food that our parents and grandparents ate, is not strange. As an older person I keep realizing how far we have strayed from “real food” with all the packaged, tinned and jarred food we generally find in our supermarkets these days. And the huge number of additives, colourings, preservatives added to everything.

    Have a Happy Labor Day !!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      That about summarizes which fats to use as concisely as you can get. Perfect. I kind of get a little frustrated with the focus on this kind of fat/that kind/those kinds. Then foods start getting slandered (like nuts and omega-6 or coconut and saturated fat) and people get really confused and flustered. On one hand, yes, there are certain times people may need to heal up an issue or address an issue and a certain fat needs called in or excluded. But for most people, just keeping it as simple as you said is just right!

      So far, our weekend is going great! The little boy was worried about no milk for breakfast, but the kids made real lemonade for their friends and all was well.

      Good-bye till next time, Jo tB!

  2. Libby at ditchthecarbs.com

    Fabulous post. Keep fats simple, keep fats real and keep fats natural. What has given fat a bad reputation? The low fat movement, when all fats were clumped together and regarded as bad and to be avoided at all costs. Healthy fats are essential and wonderful. I cannot wait to see if you write a cholesterol post, that misunderstood black sheep of the fat family.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hi, Libby! It will be a while on the cholesterol! But I’m working hard to get family and friends off those statins. They’re like, “But what about my cholesterol…” I also work on their diets. Nobody listens to me. Pft. That’s why I had to start a blog. 🙂 They got tired of listening to me! Terri

  3. andthreetogo

    This is something I feel is so important to know and I am stoked that you are writing about it. The “fat free” fad of the 80’s and 90’s I think has affected us as a people in ways that we haven’t even begun to realize (besides the rise in sugar consumption of course).
    Btw… oh my goodness, I absolutely love the new look! I love everything about your new site (I don’t even think you really need me… I will email you.) 🙂

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Thanks, Jenny. I’m glad my mom never cut butter out of my diet! Whew! 🙂

      I do need help–with link colors, fonts, the “badges,” etc. But I have to get it organized in my head so I can have you help instead of jacking you around with this and that!


  4. Pingback: More Fat Talks and Don’t Be a Tool. | The HSD

  5. Jack

    Hello Terri, I had a quad bypass in Feb 2016. Since I didn’t want to clog up my shiny new arteries, I decided to follow the Dr. Dean Ornish diet. He cuts all oils. I’ve been an oil free vegan since July 2016. I sauté my veggies in white wine! I found your blog while reading the Potato Hack.
    Regards, Jack (68 years)

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Thanks, Jack. I’ve read a little about Ornish, although it seems to have come more from people talking ABOUT Ornish. LOL! Ha! I suppose a better way for me to do it would be to read some Ornish. I’ll do that. Thanks.

      I could see living without added oils as a truly healthy way to live, as long as one’s diet contained plenty of whole, real foods rich in oils/fats. I do think we need them (oils and fats), but I’ve come to think that once we squeeze them out of food, it’s a downhill path.

      I hope you’re feeling and functioning great! I’m sure Dr. Ornish has made sure to hit the points that are a little lower in a vegan diet, but in case not, vitamin B12 is one I think about. And vitamin K2 would be one to read about, especially as you’ve had “clogged” arteries.

      Stop by here anytime. I’ve corresponded with Tim Steele (The Potato Hack) quite a bit regarding resistant starch, butyrate, fiber, and short chain fatty acids. All plant matter stuff!

      Good day!


    2. Dr Bailey

      Cutting out fat is going to calcify recorder calcify your arteries because you don’t have enough vitamin K

      1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Clarification for people passing by to Dr. Bailey’s point:

        Plant-based should have plenty of K1, just not much K2. (Where fermented foods may help some with this lack of K2) It’s the K2 that helps make sure the calcium isn’t deposited in the arteries. I like to see people get sources of K2.

        If Dr. Bailey disagrees with my liberty of adding to his comment, I hope he’ll see it and pipe back in.



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