Healthful fatty foods and oils (and not-healthful fats to avoid)

Avocado Signature

By Cat, April 2019 (Image, right, from an article on Signature Foods; link has been lost)

I’ve been working on moving my health articles from my old iWeb site to this blog; in that process I review and update each article with new or changed information. I used to have a list of foods rich in healthful fats on my Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) page, and decided to add info about the fatty acid contents of each. That made the post too long, so I have moved it to this new posting, leaving just the list of foods on the CKD page. I also include a list of the un-healthful fats and the types of food that contain them, on this new posting.

Nov 2021 update: I’ve added a list of “5 Amazing Healthy Fats to Include in Your Diet, to lower risk of dementia.” (from a “Science of Prevention” email)

Dietary fats: lists of foods with healthful fats and not-healthful fats

5 Amazing Healthy Fats to Reduce Risk of Dementia

The following is from a Science of Prevention email (11/10/21); I’ve copied most of the email text to a pdf file: GoodFats-LowerDementiaRisk_111021email. Note that I put my comments in square brackets: [_]. I also note that I include all of these foods in my daily diet.

Here are five foods that are great for keeping your brain healthy and sharp well into old age (from that email):

  1. Nuts are rich in a variety of brain-supporting nutrients like vitamin E, omega-3 fats, copper, and manganese. These nutrients have been shown to help nurture and protect brain cells, prevent cognitive decline, and improve cognitive function.
  2. Wild-caught fish, like salmon, is an excellent source of DHA. This fatty acid plays a crucial role in developing and protecting brain cells and has the potential to drastically improve memory and cognition if consumed on a regular basis.
  3. Avocados are high in healthy monounsaturated fats that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity, all of which are healthy for your brain. However, most avocado oil products have been adulterated with soy and other harmful oils – similar to what has happened with most olive oils (see Olive Oil: The Real Deal, or Adulterated/Fake)
  4. Eggs help improve brain health in two important ways. Eggs deliver a mega-dose of choline, which is converted to acetylcholine by your body. Acetylcholine plays a central role in memory and cognition.
  5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO): Research is showing that extra virgin olive oil is an incredibly healthy brain food… ” [but most grocery-store brands are fake; see Cat’s article: Olive Oil: The Real Deal, or Adulterated/Fake for the best sources of the real deal, and why you should avoid the fake brands.]

The rest of their email is devoted to EVOO (see my pdf version; however, I excluded the sales-pitch part about their recommended source: T.J. Robinson, the Olive Oil Hunter’s Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club. You can look that up online.

Foods with healthful fats

(See next section below, for Not-Healthful Fats)

Mercola (1 A, 1B) identifies the following foods as rich in healthful fats (text in brackets is for my additions; the bold-purple text links are to other articles on Cat’s Kitchen).


% of total fat (4, 3A):

  • 15% saturated (as palmitic and stearic acids),
  • 67% mono-unsaturated (as oleic acid) and
  • 12% poly-unsaturated (as linoleic and linolenic acids);

However, as noted above, best to avoid commercial avocado oil.

Black Seed Oil

External use:  This is helpful for joints with arthritis – just rub it on the skin around the painful area.

Internal use: I take supplemental Black Seed Oil (in gel-caps) to help keep my brain sharp and minimize “Senior Moments.” 

However, per a Mercola article (1e), because like other seed oils, black seed oil is high in the Omega-6 fat: linoleic acid, you should not use it every day. He writes:

Linoleic acid (LA) is likely the leading contributing cause of virtually all chronic diseases we have encountered in the last century. When LA is consumed in excessive amounts, it acts as a metabolic poison.

Coconuts and coconut oil

Coconut oil is excellent for cooking as it can withstand higher temperatures without oxidizing); % of total fat (4):

  • 90% saturated (as caproic, caprylic, capric, lauric, myristic, palmitic, and stearic acid)
  • 6% g mono-unsaturated (as oleic acid)
  • 2% g poly-unsaturated (as linoleic acid)

Fish and Fish Oils: Wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies and/or krill oil

These provide animal-based omega-3 (DHA and EPA) (10D) fat while being low in [toxic] mercury.  [I don’t recommend farmed seafood.] See also section: “Dietary fats: not-healthful fats to avoid,” below, regarding problem with fish oil from farmed fish.

  • Anchovies; about 33% of total fat (14B); however, be sure to use wild-caught anchovies.
  • Cod liver oil (many brands process their cod liver oil, decreasing its effectiveness, so choose carefully; I use Green Pastures Cod Liver Oil from fermented, wild-caught cod livers (15)). I also take Krill Oil; krill cannot be farmed so their oil is rich in DHA.
  • Fish oil (if from wild-caught fatty fish, but many brands use farmed fish and process their fish oil, decreasing its effectiveness; see “Dietary fats: not-healthful fats to avoid,” below, for more on this).
  • Krill oil; 14% of total fat (1C); krill cannot be farmed, so their oil is rich in DHA (see “Dietary fats: not-healthful fats to avoid,” below, for more on this).
  • Sardines; about 24% of total fat (14A); however, be sure to use wild-caught sardines.
  • Wild-caught salmon; 21% of total fat (average for 4 species: King, Sockeye, Silver and Pink Salmon (13)

Butter and Ghee (Clarified Butter) and Cream

Choose only dairy products made from Organic raw milk/cream of grass-fed dairy animals. Butter is excellent as an accompaniment and for baking; if used for sautéing, be sure the heat is low. Ghee is excellent for cooking and baking.

Butter and Ghee; % of total fat (6, 10B)

  • 62% saturated (as butyric, capric, caproic, caprylic, lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic acids)
  • 31.9% mono-unsaturated (as oleic acid)
  • 0.3% poly-unsaturated (as linoleic and linolenic acids)

Cream: % of total fat for bovine (cow) cream (12)

  • 63.8% saturated (as butyric, capric, caproic, caprylic, lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic acids)
  • 22.4% mono-unsaturated (as oleic acid)
  • 3.6% poly-unsaturated (as linoleic, conjugated linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids)

Cacao butter (raw)

% of total fats (2B):

  • 36-43% saturated (as stearic, palmitic, myristic acid, arachidi, and lauric acid)
  • 29–43% Mono-unsaturated (as oleic, and palmitoleic acids)
  • 0 – 5% Poly-unsaturated (as linoleic and  α-Linolenic acids)

Nuts, raw [preferably sprouted]

Macadamia and pecans are ideal as they are high in healthful fats, while being low in protein. The following fat composition data is for pecans; the percentages are of total nutrients, not just of total fats (7, 8A):

  • 8.6% saturated (as palmitic, stearic and arachidic acids);
  • 57% mono-unsaturated (as oleic and gadoleic acids);
  • 3% poly-unsaturated (as linoleic and alpha linolenic acids)

Seeds, [raw, preferably sprouted]

This includes seeds like black sesame, cumin, pumpkin and hemp. The following fat composition data is for pumpkin seeds; the percentages are of total nutrients, not just of total fats (8B)

    • 8.5% saturated (as lauric, myristic, palmitic, and  acids);
    • 14.3% mono-unsaturated (as oleic, palmitoleic and gadoleic acids);
    • 20.9% poly-unsaturated (as linoleic and alpha linolenic acids)

Olives and olive oil

Make sure it’s third party certified, as 80 percent of olive oils are adulterated with vegetable oils). See Olive Oil: The Real Deal, or Adulterated/Fake for more on this. % of total fat: (4B)

    • 14 – 21% saturated (as palmitic, stearic, arachidic, and behenic acids),
    • 66 – 81% mono-unsaturated (as palmitoleic, oleic, gadoleic and erucic acids)
    • 7 – 26% poly-unsaturated (as linoleic and linolenic acids)

Meats from grass fed and finished (pastured), preferably Organic, and humanely raised livestock

Avoid CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) animal products. See Lard, tallow, duck and goose fat, below, for composition info.


[This is not a natural triglyceride; rather is produced by reacting a mix of natural Medium Chain fatty acids with glycerol; because of this, I am skeptical about MCT oil and prefer natural fats/oils high in medium-chain fatty acids (6 – 12 carbons long). (10C)] % of total fat:

  • 100% saturated; as caproic, caprylic, capric, and caproic acids (6, 8, 10 and 12 carbons, respectively)

Lard (pork fat)

Lard is rendered fat from hogs, and is excellent for cooking and baking (such as pie crusts). Be sure to select lard that is not hydrogenated, or render it yourself. See my posts on (originally from The Essentialist (11 A, 11B)) about rendering : Rendering Lard – the Perfect (& Original) Shortening and Rendering Lard in a Crockpot: The Process.

Percentage of total fats in lard (10A):

  • 40% saturated
  • 48% monounsaturated
  • 12% polyunsaturated.

Tallow (beef & mutton fat)

This is another excellent animal fat for cooking; it is also good fo rbaking but you may not like the flavor. % of total fats (10A):

  • 50-55% saturated,
  • 40% monounsaturated,
  • <3% polyunsaturated.

Duck & Goose fat

This was my Mom’s favorite fat for cooking and baking. She rendered it herself (see Lard, above for links to articles on how to render). % of total fats (10A):

  • 35% saturated,
  • 52% monounsaturated,
  • 13% polyunsaturated.

Egg yolks from Organic, Pastured Hens

% of total fats (2C, 9)

  • 38.5% saturated (as lignoceric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, acids)
  • 48.2% Mono-unsaturated (as oleic, palmitoleic, and vaccenic acids); interesting note: vaccenic acid is a natural trans fatty acid
  • 13.2% Poly-unsaturated (as arachidonic, linoleic, linolenic acids)

Dietary fats: not-healthful fats and oils to avoid

  • Fats: Partially-hydrogenated trans fat (not natural) which act as a pro-oxidant [encourages oxidation];
  • Palm oil: This is a natural oil from tropical regions, and is solid at cooler temps. I used to use it, but I’ve since learned that the massive killing of palm trees to extract this oil is eradicating the tropical rainforests. And I’ve more recently learned that palmitic acid (from palm oil) can promote metastasis in your mouth, which can lead to cancer (1f).
  • Fish oils from farmed fish.* This is because they are not fed their normal diet rich in DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid), essential Omega-6 fatty acids. Instead they are fed a primarily vegetarian diet, replacing DHA with ALA3 (alpha linolenic acid), an essential Omega-3 fatty acid found in plant oils. (ALA3 is not to be confused with LA (linoleic acid), a nonessential Omega-6 fatty acid). For humans, ALA3 is not useful until it is converted to DHA or EPA (Omega-6 fatty acids). The bottom line is to eat naturally raised foods.

Cat’s Note about “ALA”: This name is used for two different fatty acids: Alpha Linolenic Acid, an Omega-3 fat; and Alpha Lipoic Acid, which is neither an Omega-3 nor Omega-6. To avoid confusion, I prefer to use ALA3 for Alpha Linolenic Acid (Omega-3), and ALA1 for Alpha Lipoic Acid.

  • The following are other notes on fish oil:
    • Dr. Al Sears, in a sales pitch for his Omega Rejuvenol supplement,* says that ALA3 can harm the brain, leading to memory issues, while DHA can restore the brain and memory. See my article on Omega-3 Fatty Acids, for more about this.

Nov ’21: The other ALA  (I call ALA1, or Alpha Lipoic acid) can reduce memory loss as people age, so it’s very important to know which ALA is meant. 

    • I take Green Pasture’s Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil, which comes from “Alaska Cod that have been exclusively wild-caught in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands region of Alaska.” (15) This oil has a Vitamin A:D ratio of 10:1, which meets WAPF recommendations(16). I also take Krill Oil; krill cannot be farmed so their oil is rich in DHA.
    • It is also important to have a proper balance between Vitamins A and D. Fish oil is a good source of vitamins A and D, but highly processed fish oil does not retain the proper balance.  Most fish oils do not meet the recommended A:D ratio of 10:1. However, vitamin A is also present in many foods, so your total A:D ratio would be higher than it is in the fish oil.
  • Highly refined poly-unsaturated seed oils (aka “vegetable oils” such as corn, soy and canola oils) which are high in damaged omega-6 fats, and produce toxic oxidation products like cyclic aldehydes when heated. Most are also GMO. Dr. Mercola has an excellent article on all the harm highly refined seed oils can do (1d). The only safe way to consume seed oils is if they are cold-pressed; the heat and pressure from most processing is what does the damage to the oils.
    • Sadly, these are the most-used fats in our modern times. Mercola’s article (1d) states: “One-third of US Caloric Intake is Seed Oils.” They are used in commercial salad dressings, for deep-fat frying, and even in some baked goods.
    • I make my own salad dressings using Organic olive oil instead of seed oils; and while I don’t deep-fry very often, when I do, I use my homemade lard and Organic coconut oil. See also my article: Rendering Lard – the Perfect (& Original) Shortening.
  • Interesterified fats, which are an unnatural combination of natural fats. See my article: Chemically Altered Fats for more.
  • Processed/packaged foods, because they typically contain inexpensive synthetic (not natural) fats, or altered natural fats. Also common in restaurant foods.

‘* My attention was drawn to the farmed fish issue by Dr. Al Sears’s sales pitch for his Omega Rejuvenol supplement (17). It is not currently available on Amazon (ASIN B00W7QRI96).


  1. Mercola:
    1. Basic Introduction to Metabolic Mitochondrial Therapy:
    2. Beginner’s Guide to the Ketogenic Diet:
    3. Krill vs Fish Oil:
    4. The harm of seed oils (aka “vegetable oil:”):
    5. Black Seed Oil for COVID treatment:
    6. Palm Oil Promotes Metastasis in the Mouth:
  2. Wikipedia:
    3. various fatty acids: myristic, palmitic, palmitoleic, heptadecanoic, stearic, oleic, vaccenic, linoleic, linolenic, arachidonic, and lignoceric
  3. (4)
  4. (5) Essoteric Oils:
  5. (6)
  6. (7)
  7. (8)
  8. (9) The PaleoDiet:
  9. (10)
  10. Cat’s Kitchen:
    1. Good Fats for Cooking:
    2. Ghee – Clarified Butter:
    3. Good (Healthful) vs Bad (Not Healthful) Fats and Oils:
    4. Essential Fats — A Case of Balance):…/essential-fats-a-case-of-balance
  11. The EssentiaList (Cat is the editor of this website):
    1. Rendering Lard – the Perfect (& Original) Shortening: EssentiaList (Cat’s articles on that site):
    2. Rendering Lard in a Crockpot: The Process:
  14. Fat Secret:
  15. Blue Ice:
  16. WAPF:

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