When it comes to autoimmune diseases, the food you eat can have a huge impact on your health.  Fats and oils are essential components of a balanced diet, but if you have an autoimmune disorder, you may need to be more mindful of which fats and oils you consume.

Many processed fats and oils can cause inflammation, so it’s important to understand which ones should be avoided.  There are so many different kinds of fat; some we’re told are good and some are bad.  This is confusing – right?  What’s actually true?   Let’s take a closer look at what fats and oils should be avoided and which ones you need for optimal health with autoimmune disease.

Fats And Oils You Need To Avoid

Processed Vegetable Oils

Processed vegetable oils are often used in restaurants or in the home kitchen because they’re inexpensive and shelf-stable. However, these types of oils—including corn oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, palm oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil—are all high in omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory and can worsen symptoms of autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Instead of using these processed vegetable oils, opt for natural sources of fat like olive oil or coconut oil when cooking in your own kitchen.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are man-made fats that have been created through the process of hydrogenation which adds hydrogen atoms to liquid vegetable oils. Trans fats have no nutritional value but can cause inflammation which is a contributing factor of many autoimmune diseases.

Trans fats are found in processed foods like chips, cookies, crackers, cake mixes, and margarine. Trans fats are made through a process called hydrogenation where liquid vegetable oils are turned into a solid form. These types of fats raise bad cholesterol levels (LDL) while lowering good cholesterol (HDL).

Eating trans fats also increases inflammation in the body which can worsen symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.  It is important to read ingredient labels carefully when shopping for food to make sure that trans fats aren’t present in the product.

Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Hydrogenated oils are vegetable oils that have been chemically altered through a process called hydrogenation which makes them solid at room temperature. Partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fat but at lower levels than what is found in fully hydrogenated products like margarine or shortening. These types of oils contain trans fat which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease so it is best to avoid them whenever possible.  Partially hydrogenated oils can still increase inflammation in the body so it’s best to avoid them altogether if you suffer from an autoimmune disorder.



fats and oils: healthy fats


Fats And Oils You Need In Your Diet 

Healthy fats are essential for good health and optimal functioning of your body’s systems, including your immune system.  Get your fats from real food.  Remember:  the kind of fat you eat is way more important than how much.

Make sure you purchase high-quality products from reputable sources so that you’re getting the most nutritional benefit from your food.  Furthermore, it is important to vary what types of fats you’re consuming because different types offer different benefits so rotating between them will give your body a variety of nutrients it needs for optimal health.

The Good Fats

Grass–fed butter, regeneratively raised beef, fish, pasture-raised chicken and eggs, grass-fed dairy, organic coconut oil, organic avocadoes, nuts and seeds, organic extra virgin olive oil, and ghee are all healthy fats.  Also, don’t forget about tahini, sesame oil, walnut oil, and almond oil. Let’s dive in a little deeper to learn more about a few of these.

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the best fats and oils to add to your diet if you have an autoimmune disease. It’s rich in monosaturated fatty acids and contains antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation. Extra virgin olive oil has also been found to lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing good cholesterol levels (HDL). Furthermore, it contains polyphenols, which are compounds known for their antioxidant properties. These compounds can also help reduce inflammation associated with autoimmunity.

Coconut oil is another good option for those living with an autoimmune disease. It is high in saturated fat, but unlike other saturated fats, it doesn’t raise your LDL cholesterol levels, making it a heart-healthy choice. Coconut oil is also rich in lauric acid, a type of fatty acid that has antiviral properties and helps boost immunity naturally. It has anti-inflammatory properties as well and can help reduce inflammation associated with autoimmunity.

Avocado oil is a great way to get healthy fats into your diet if you have an autoimmune disorder. It’s rich in oleic acid, which can help reduce inflammation associated with autoimmunity, as well as monounsaturated fats, which help lower LDL cholesterol levels while increasing HDL cholesterol levels. Avocado oil also contains vitamin E, which helps protect against oxidative stress caused by free radicals. In addition, its high smoke point makes it a great option for cooking at higher temperatures without losing its nutritional value or flavor.

It’s also important to get adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet since these provide anti-inflammatory benefits which can help reduce inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. The best sources of omega-3s are fatty fish like salmon or sardines as well as plant sources such as chia seeds, flaxseed, walnuts, hemp seeds, or algae supplements such as spirulina or chlorella.

Don’t be afraid of fat.  Cut out those refined oils.  Remember:  Don’t combine fat with sugar and starch – it’s like rocket fuel for weight gain.  Eat fat regularly with every meal – particularly in the morning.



It’s important to be mindful when selecting your cooking oils and other dietary sources of fat if you have an autoimmune disorder since many processed products contain hidden sources that may worsen your symptoms. Avoiding processed vegetable oils, trans fats, and partially hydrogenated oils is key for reducing inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Instead opt for monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids from natural sources like olive oil, nuts, or avocados which offer many health benefits without increasing risk factors associated with heart disease or stroke development.

It can be beneficial to consult with a registered dietitian or health care provider who specializes in nutrition therapy for further guidance on how to choose healthy sources of fat for your individualized needs. With this knowledge under your belt, you will be well on your way to living a healthier life!


***Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice***


  • Susan Taylor, RDN LD

    Meet Susan, registered dietitian / nutritionist and fellow autoimmune warrior who is dedicated to helping women with autoimmune disease get their groove back. With the right diet and lifestyle changes, Susan empowers her clients to take control of their health and feel their best. When she's not busy saving the world you can find Susan strolling along the beach, jet-setting to new destinations, and soaking up quality time with family & friends.

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