good fats slices of almond butter and toast

Fats have made a comeback from their bad rap in the 90’s, but many of us are still catching up and trying to get our health facts straight. Our March guest editor, Dr. Mark Hyman is on a mission to help people discover a whole world of healthy foods they may have previously shunned. We’re talking coconut oil, grass-fed butter–the whole nine yards! The right fats actually help to speed up our metabolisms, find focus, balance our hormones and create that inner glow. The key is in sourcing the good stuff. Grab Dr. Hyman’s cheat sheet below to know which fats to eat and which to toss…

My new book, Eat Fat, Get Thin, provides people with the real facts on fat. I go through the research on fat and the science behind what fat does to our body. For decades now, we’ve declared a war on fat and introduced some of the most toxic crap into our diet – including low fat yogurts, milks, cookies, cakes and a lot of processed carbs and sugar! But fat is not evil! In fact, the right fats can speed up your metabolism, make your brain work better and faster, balance your hormones and they can even help your skin glow.

The important thing to know is which fats are good and which are bad. So I’ve put together a little fat cheat sheet that you can reference in times of need.

These are based on my recommendations to eat fats rich in omega 3s and fats that lower inflammation and increase fat burning, and avoid foods with inflammatory fats like vegetable oils and foods high in heavy metals, pesticides and hormones (dairy).

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats

Animal Fats

GOOD Grass-fed, organic, sustainably raised lamb, beef, bison, venison; organic chicken, duck and turkey; omega 3 pasture-raised eggs, organic, free-range, pasture-raised lard.

BAD Feedlot animal meats; non-organic poultry.

Fish & Seafood

GOOD | Wild fatty fish: sardines, mackerel, herring, black cod, and wild salmon. Shellfish, including clams, oysters, mussels, shrimp, scallops, and crab; calamari or octopus.

BAD | Lobster, tuna, catfish, king mackerel, Chilean sea bass, swordfish.

Dairy & Dairy Substitutes

GOOD | Grass-fed butter, ghee, unsweetened nut and seed milks (almond, cashew, hemp, hazelnut).

BAD  | Milk, yogurt, cheese, cream, regular butter, soy milk.

Nuts & Seeds

GOOD | Almonds, macadamia, walnuts, pecans, and Brazil nuts. Hemp, chia, pumpkin, sesame, flax. Nuts and seed butters (without added sugars or bad oils).

BAD  | Peanuts.


GOOD | Coconut butter; organic, virgin, cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil; organic, extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil; MCT oil; organic flax seed oil; organic, expeller-pressed refined avocado oil; walnut, pumpkin seed, pistachio and hemp oils.

BAD | Safflower, soybean, sunflower, corn, and cottonseed oils; hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils; margarine and shortening.

Whole Food Fats

GOOD| Avocado, olives, cacao butter, dark chocolate.

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From our friends


  1. Hi!

    I noticed that cheese is declared a bad fat here. What is the scientific backing to this?

    Like grass-fed butter, high-quality artisan cheese has many healthy benefits, including probiotics. Why have you shunned an entire group of nutritious and delicious cheese? This seems very, very wrong.

    Erika Kubick | 03.14.2016 | Reply
  2. Also wondering what the reasoning is here, and curious to know the stance on full fat kefir

  3. Hi Dr. Hyman, heard you speak last summer at the Chopra Center and was blown away by your knowledge, willingness to help others, intelligence and stage presence. I thought that maybe I saw on your website that some soy– organic and in small quantities– is fine (for instance if I have it in my coffee a few days a week?). Is this still the case? Also, why are tuna and safflower oil on the “bad list?” Thanks for any clarification that you can give!

    Samantha | 03.14.2016 | Reply
  4. Curious to understand where raw milk and raw cheeses figure….

    mkrunner | 03.14.2016 | Reply
  5. Otto Warburg who was awarded the noble prize in 1930 for the role of fats and cancer had blacklisted cheese. Personally I never eat cheese ( and was raised that way). I also believe cheese ages you faster.. Asians do not cheese and they seem to age fabulously.. There must be something to it…

    Rachel | 03.14.2016 | Reply
  6. I’m wondering why nut milks (that usually contain carageenan and are made from unsprouted nuts) are recommended but organic or better yet, raw milk products, cheeses, and butter is not?

  7. this is a list without any links to research. basically, a “trust me” list. too many of these things online.

    scott schor | 03.15.2016 | Reply
  8. Hi Dr,
    Why is my Tuna Albacore solid is bad for me? I really missed not eating.
    Thank you,

    Christiane Daries | 03.15.2016 | Reply
  9. When it comes to milk, you don’t have a clue what you are talking about. I’ve been drinking raw milk my entire adult life. Don’t try to tell us that a natural product that has not been tampered with is bad for us. That’s just crazy talk

    Ivan Miller | 03.15.2016 | Reply
  10. Dr, you forgot to mention raw, local goat cheese and milk….these are not bad for some people. Vit K2 super important to our health along with the other fat soluble vitamins.

    Martha | 03.15.2016 | Reply
  11. Why are peanuts bad for you? I love organic, one ingredient peanut butter 🙁

    Denise | 03.15.2016 | Reply
  12. Amy – He didn’t recommend the commercially prepared nut milks. I make my own using a single type or a blend of nuts, drpending on my mood. They taste so much better. They aren’t thick and don’t havee that weird flavor the store bought ones have.

  13. Thankfully someone is setting the record straight. I make a chocolate bar with cocoa butter & honey instead of dairy and (some) people are still stuck on the saturated fat. Love having this information when I do tasting demos at Whole Foods!

    Paula Charleson | 03.16.2016 | Reply
  14. why peanut butter is bad?

    lina | 03.16.2016 | Reply
  15. Paula,
    What would the possibility be of getting the recipe for your chocolate bar?

  16. As with other readers, i would much like to understand why chesse (even if grass fed and organic) , peanuts and tuna are on the bad list

    Tatjana | 03.16.2016 | Reply
  17. Peanuts are all omega 6 oil, and no omega 3. Too much omega 6 is inflammatory. You should be eating twice as much omega 3 (which is anti-inflammatory) as omega 6.

    Niccistar | 03.18.2016 | Reply
  18. I clicked on this article through your weekly email. I also read another article from that same email (about hormones and emotions). This article says no to yogurt (which does not seem right at all) and the hormone article says you should be eating it.. please clarify. Also no tuna seems wrong too.

    Rebecca | 03.21.2016 | Reply
  19. I think eating animals or the oil from them is destroying out planet. Especially seafood! Trawling every last fish out of the ocean so that you may have some “healthy fat” when there are plenty of vegetable based oils that can be used as an alternative should
    be seen as a crime.
    “As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”
    ― Pythagoras

    David Laidlaw | 04.21.2016 | Reply
  20. Hi Denise, my naturopath also told me to stop eating peanut butter. Peanuts are grown, stored and processed in a way that is conducive to mold growth on/in the nut so they hold a high risk for people who have candida issues. Also, almonds and other nuts have high levels of vitamins and minerals whereas I think peanuts are the most nutrient weak. All that being said, I’m sitting here eating my gluten free English muffin with peanut butter so…ce la vie! lol 🙂

    Vicki | 05.12.2016 | Reply
  21. I do not see any problem with organic full fat milk and greek yogurt, why should we consider them bad?
    Whats the evidence or even the rational behind this?

    Nikolas | 05.16.2016 | Reply
  22. Tuna is full of mercury which is toxin. Toxin is bad for your health and eating too much tuna makes you sick. Of course you are not going to die but it produce inflamatory

    James | 05.16.2016 | Reply
  23. I don’t see canola oil listed, but I believe it belongs on the bad list.

    Susanna | 05.16.2016 | Reply
  24. I have an allergy to walnuts and almonds, so peanut butter is my butter of choice. I shoot for natural and now without salt.

    Yvette | 05.16.2016 | Reply
  25. People–he wrote a book that answers all your questions.

    Ashley | 05.16.2016 | Reply
  26. Tuna is bad?

    Linda | 05.17.2016 | Reply
  27. Where do beans fit on this list like kidney beans, black beans, lentils, garbanzos, white beans etc? Seems like a big missing area of the list.

    Chris | 05.17.2016 | Reply
  28. Peanuts alter your glycemic levels and that makes them unacceptable. Tuna is high in Mercury.

    Sheley | 06.05.2016 | Reply
  29. Nothing wrong with plain yogurt and milk in your coffee. Nothing.

  30. Interesting you seem to argue with DR Hammond when he is the expert. If you disagree so violently seems like you’d just not eat the way he suggests and be done with it. That being said I appreciate all his efforts and am trying to eat the way he says. I do think it misleading to show a bunch of bread with peanut butter on it at the beginning though.

    Beverlhy | 10.04.2016 | Reply
  31. Peanuts?? Peanut butter as well? Why?

    Natali | 10.04.2016 | Reply
  32. Peanuts (legumes) and dairy both have hormones in them which cause inflammation. Both are off the paleo diet. Organic doesn’t change the fact that milk comes from pregnant or a recently pregnant cow and that affects a lot of people.

  33. I have nut allergies.There are a lot of nuts in the recipes.Are there substitutes listed some where?

    Allison | 10.16.2016 | Reply
  34. What’s wrong with the fish as well?

  35. That’s probably almond butter, or another nut/seed butter…

    The reality is that the most common foods in the Standard American Diet have MUCH better alternatives. But we’re used to eating what we’re used to so we want to continue eating it then complain at all of the illnesses and discomforts our bodies respond with.
    –> Swap out the foods you’re used to eating which have “little benefits, high toxins” for others that are “high benefits, low/zero toxins” I belive is the way to navigate through all this health education instead of clinging on to the old paradigm of food you want to eat with every last defense.
    ie: Tuna lives very long, absorbs lots of mercury and all the other garbage (literally) from the ocean – you eat tuna you eat everything it ate and absorbed for 25 years. Why? Did you know fish get all their fatty oils (omegas) from the algae they eat at the bottom of the food chain? That knowledge was life changing for me. So cut out the middle-men/fish (and all the ecological and ethical destruction involved) and just buy algae. High-dense nutrition without the garbage should be the decision maker when figuring out what to eat. You can apply this answer to every question that was asked above.

    Jennifer Lo | 02.16.2017 | Reply
  36. I have a family genetic heart disease (3X bypass age 50 and not fat or sedentary) and am a person who had followed all the guidelines for fat consumption (because our father survived the first heart attack and we paid attention) which are apparently all wrong. Those Drs had a study (The Framingham study, I believe) to back their preaching up. I have to ask…what are your studies and why should we trust them? Is milk bad because of the hormones?

    Mary Agnich | 06.30.2018 | Reply
  37. A quick search tells me that there is “no significant difference” between organic and regular chicken when it comes to taste or “good” or “bad” fats, nutrients, etc. Keep up the pseudoscience!

    Really? | 08.04.2019 | Reply
  38. The recommended foods are all well and good but it is expensive! How does a family afford to feed themselves and and a child or two? Also not as accessible
    In poorer neiborhoods. Some of these foods tuna peanut butter are staples in many homes trying to stretch a dollar.

    Lynn Torres | 08.05.2019 | Reply
  39. It seems to me that a lot of this list is kind of arbitrary and not supported in fact, intermingled with some good advice……Might be better to not give advice at all if you can’t back it up with science. Without science, it’s just religion

  40. While the principle of reducing dietary sugars is correct, this list is very ad hoc, with many of the divisions based on ‘organic’ credentials – which has no established scientific basis. The distinctions between sea foods, and peanut vs other nuts seems entirely arbitrary. A very ‘picky’ list that seems to loose the point of the argument.

  41. I’ve heard paleo-enthusiests giving this reason (omega 3/6 ratios) to avoid peanuts, but there are quite a few dietary studies that show them to be anti-inflamatory

  42. Hard to take any of this seriously where there’s a massive conflict of interest – ‘here’s my book’. And the talk about milk, do some research people, there’s not many worse thing to put in your body for good health!

  43. It doesn’t much research these days to find this doctor is now considered someone best ignored (think duck…).

    Dotty | 08.05.2019 | Reply
  44. The difference between the organic chicken and the regular is not, as you say, in the fat or protein content. It is in the amount of antibiotics fed to industrially-raised chicken.

  45. 1) there is a lot of incorrect anecdotal information in these comments (not the article)
    2) The “Good” “Bad” list is useful BUT is black and white and does not incorporate any complexity. There is a spectrum between. Case in point: peanuts are not completely bad; they contain 54% monounsaturated (GOOD fat), 28% polyunsaturated and 18% saturated. Another example: tuna is an excellent source of 3-omega fatty acids (GOOD fat) but are like put in the bad fat column for reasons other than fat content (e.g. heavy metal contamination).
    3) Eat in moderation. The AMOUNT you eat matters as much as what you eat. Even too much clean drinking water can kill you.
    4) If you can’t eat perfectly, eat as well as you can.

    Annie M | 08.06.2019 | Reply
  46. so much neurosis about food! the stress we cause ourselves obsessing about it is less healthy than the food itself. eat less overall and eat more fruits and veggies. enjoy life, enjoy food. we all will die sooner or later and there is along list of these healthy eating and living advocates who died young. genetics.

    Adam Rudolph | 08.07.2019 | Reply
  47. I am a fan of raw dairy. My family loves it. An aunt, who avoids all dairy, tried our cream, thinking it should be okay. She developed a rash.
    My husband started drinking homemade bone broth several times a day. It seemed to make him feel worse. For some reason, it didn’t agree with him. Not everyone can tolerate the same foods.
    About eating peanuts; I heard from someone who grows them. They spray them every week to prevent mold. I decided I would definitely avoid peanuts.

    Deb F | 10.09.2019 | Reply
  48. Interest g that the comments are all from readers, with absolutely no replies from Dr. Hyman. So what is the point?

    Margaret S | 01.21.2020 | Reply
  49. You ‘re supposed to buy the book!

  50. I’m deathly allergic to tree nuts, so most of what is on this list is impossible for me to consume. There is very little organic anything available to me at a price I can afford. This is fantasy for a great many people.

    Jane Turley | 06.25.2021 | Reply
  51. Folks, peanuts have a pretty low glycemic index and are full of good fats and protein. They’re pretty darn good for you. The problem is HOW you eat them. Lots of peanut butter has added sugar, and plenty of salt. There are now some very good no added sugar products that taste good. Be sure to watch your total sodium levels if you’re keeping an eye on that. This guy’s list seems to be based on a Food Religion vs. science.

    Buford | 06.25.2021 | Reply
    • Hi Buford, peanuts have often been found to be high in mold, which is why some wellness folks flag them as a danger. They are also high in omega-6 which many Americans also get too much of.

      The Chalkboard | 06.27.2021 | Reply
  52. A 5 year old advertisement for the; grass-fed, organic, wild, and sustainably raised industry; or just banging the drum on the bandwagon?

  53. In an online post, at TheChalkBoardMag.com, Ken, on 8/5/19 wrote, errantly:
    “It seems to me that a lot of this list is kind of arbitrary and not supported in fact, intermingled with some good advice……Might be better to not give advice at all if you can’t back it up with science. Without science, it’s just religion”.

    My reply to Ken, was initially designed to be a little comedic irony but then progressed down a tangent that is very important to human existence.

    “Mr. Ken, your comments could suggest that you may not follow your own arbitrary and non-factual advice. The fact and truth of the matter is “Without science, it’s just POLITICS ~ or a political media spin.” The bulk of religions are, or strive to be, founded on at least an initial truth. Any true, or correct, religion that stands the tests of both man and time will embrace science – not shun it. Truth is truth. Universal principles are true. This does not mean “I have MY truth and you have YOUR truth as I’ve heard many people state.” Truth encompasses universal laws – principles which are not dependent upon man, or man’s beliefs, or even man’s wishes. The laws and nature of the universe stand as an eternal constant and constraint.

    Let’s examine for a moment some of the principles of religion. Please bring science in to the discussion. In fact, bring the scientific method in order to avoid emotional-mental entanglement and actually develop insights, solutions and enable progress – so that we can all learn. At the primary core of nearly every religion we find reference to the ‘eternal.’ First, let’s consider being on the same page for what ‘eternal’ means – its definition.

    * I recommend acceptance of the definition of ‘eternal’ to that of standard dictionaries: “…without beginning or end; lasting forever; always existing.” Contemplating this definition, in my mind, suggests that ‘eternal’ encompasses much more than just ‘immortal’ and ruminatively suggests the next question.

    * The question is “Is anything eternal? If so, what?”

    * Presently there is a lack of enough time and writing space, so I present what solid research will reveal (hypothesis/es) and back up (answer and prove via research, observation, testing and analysis). While my own research has been extensive, I am unable to claim that it’s been exhaustive. However, I state emphatically that this short list answers the question irrefutably that the following things are eternal, and manifestly exist whether we do or not:

    I. Intelligence
    II. Law
    III. Matter

    If this list, according to universal principles, should be longer then I can accept that; however I have not been able to discover other things that are eternal. Therefore, I submit that all other concepts or things related or relevant to being eternal would fall under or be governed by these three things already mentioned. Isn’t this amazing? We are witnessing universal truths, or Truth. We can also attest, and continue to test, that Truth stands in its own sphere independent of everything else in the universe. Therefore, Truth is truth. While Truth is independent of us, our desires, our wishes, our thoughts and our beliefs; we are subject to the Truth.

    * Further contemplating the Truth leads to a myriad of progressive questioning, and refining, and revelation. For example, one thought or question might be: “If…IF…an entity such as ourselves were to completely abide by, and abide in, the Truth then could we also be, or become, eternal? Wow. That’s amazing.

    Whether the answer, for ourselves, is in the affirmative or in the negative; we are now considering the possibility and reality that sentient beings can be eternal. At this juncture we can return to our initial examination concerning religion and ask the next logical question, develop new hypotheses and keep testing and learning. It’s really a process of progression, isn’t it? At the core of most religions is the principle of God and God’s attributes. Now, as a religious person embracing science we can contemplate God. In order to be God, and always be God, God must work according to Truth. If God were to violate the principles of Truth then God would cease to be God. Let’s consider the following:

    * Is God eternal? If God does not abide by Truth then God is not eternal and then there is no God. If God abides by, and in, the Truth then God is eternal.

    * In considering God, in the context of Truth as we’ve discussed, then what does this really mean as far as God’s abilities?

    I. Intelligence. Being God suggests being at the pinnacle of sentient beings, therefore, God is the pinnacle of intelligence. Therefore God knows everything (omniscient). God is more intelligent than all the other intelligences.

    II. Law. God, as outlined above, is omniscient and therefore knows and understands all laws (abides in Truth) and works within the framework of those laws and principles.

    III. Matter. Since God is omniscient, knows and understands all laws, God controls all matter within the universe.

    The understanding and application of the above is what constitutes the principle of Faith. Faith is a principle of power. Faith is the power that God uses to govern the universe and make things happen. Errantly, many people confuse the term “faith” with “belief.” We can believe in things that are both true and untrue. So, while it is possible to believe in something that is not true and won’t happen – it is impossible to have faith in something that is untrue. If it were possible to have faith in something that is untrue then faith would neither be a principle of Truth nor a principle of power. Therefore, faith is believing in something unseen THAT IS TRUE.

    Therefore, God’s “religion” is Truth and neither fears nor worries about science because science is wrapped up in Truth. Belief and science may clash and even negate each other, but faith and science can work most intimately and effectively (power).

    Terry | 05.22.2022 | Reply

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