Did you know that good fats make you happy, smart, healthy and beautiful?
And avoiding them leads to many health and wellbeing issues down the road?
Low fat diets, fat avoidance and eating predominantly the wrong fats is flat out damaging to your health as it deprives your body of essentials.
Most people are concerned about consuming too much fat – while eating too little of the RIGHT FATS and too many of the WRONG FATS is a far bigger problem.
The simple truth: the key to healthy fat consumption is to consume a good balance of unprocessed saturated, poly- and monounsaturated fats from whole foods.
Fat is source of energy and keeps you full longer, fat provides flavor to your diet, but more importantly, it is a vital element in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K. Healthy fat is also needed to support metabolism, cell signaling, the health of various body tissues, immunity and hormone health.
There is strong evidence that healthy fats improve your brain health and mood, support optimal cardiovascular function and improve your body composition.
What are healthy fats?
Healthy fats are fats that are relatively unprocessed and come from whole foods.
What are unhealthy fats?
Artificially altered and processed fats are not healthy. Those are trans-fatty acids (in processed foods), hydrogenated fats (such as margarine) and most shelf-stable cooking oils (e.g. safflower, soybean, corn oil etc).
What types of fat are there?
The three major types of fat include saturated fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Saturated fats and unsaturated fats differ in chemical structure – saturated fats are solid at room temperature, while unsaturated are liquid.
The standard saying that saturated fats are bad for us, while unsaturated fats are always good does not hold true anymore.
Saturated fats are not as bad for us as we used to think. A moderate amount of saturated fats from unprocessed and whole food, high quality sources are actually good for our health. They come mostly from animal sources (like butter and meat) and tropical sources like coconut oil. High quality sources also contribute to the quality of the fat.
Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) are healthy dietary fats found in avocados, olives, nuts and seeds. They appear to lower LDL cholesterol (aka the “bad” cholesterol). They may also increase HDL cholesterol (aka the “good” cholesterol). High-MUFA diets positively impact blood sugar control and are recommended for inclusion in dietary regimen for type 2 diabetes.
Polyunsaturated fats are not equal in their effects.
The type of polyunsaturated fat you eat may be just as important as how much of it you eat. So – the old statement – polyunsaturated is always good for you is not true!
Both Omega6 and Omega3 are essential polyunsaturated fats and are important for your health.
Omega 6: certain high quality Omega 6 fats are highly anti-inflammatory and protective (GLA) – while processed plant oils contain too much inflammatory Omega 6 and should be avoided!
Highly processed cooking oils like safflower and soybean oil are not the right sources of Omega 6 – good sources of Omega-6 include olives, nuts and poultry. Primrose and borage oil are superior sources of the anti-inflammatory Omega 6 kind (GLA).
Omega3 fats are anti-inflammatory and amongst others important for brain health and development.Good sources of Omega 3s are walnuts, fatty cold water fish (eg. wild salmon), flaxseed.
In order for your body to function well, you need to maintain a balanced supply of saturated and unsaturated fats as well as a good ratio of Omega 3s and 6s.
In most modern diets the ratio is skewed towards too much saturated fats as well as too many Omega6 (too little Omega3s). Meaning – we need to have more Omega 3s!
As a simple guideline: focus on high quality fats in general – and with regards to what to get more of: Focus on Omega3s rich foods like flaxseeds, walnuts, fish such as salmon, and fish oils. Supplements are a good idea here (my e-comm is coming soon to provide you with convenient access to high quality supplements).
Hydrogenated/Trans fats:They should be completely avoided. Those can be found in everything with margarine and shortening, processed and fried foods and sweets like pie, cookies and cakes of shelf-stable, store-bought quality. Microwave Popcorn and crackers can also be full of trans fat!
These fats form when vegetable oil hardens, a process called hydrogenation, and can raise LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, and lower HDL (good cholesterol) levels, which of course is the complete opposite of what you need in order to maintain good heart health. In fact, trans fats have been linked repeatedly to heart disease. These fatty acids can also cause major clogging of your arteries, type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems.
To summarize all of this: eating healthy fat and avoiding unhealthy fat is important for your long term health and vitality. Don’t focus on amounts, grams and numbers – just try to shoot for a good balance of the different healthy fats (download list!) – and stay away from the bad. Enjoy!