You Need Healthy Fats- Here's WHY and HOW:
"How much fat should I be eating?"
"Does fat make you fat?"
"Should I be on a low fat diet?"
"Are there different kinds of fats?"
Fat is one of the most misunderstood macronutrients because it's very name is the thing most people are trying to get rid of! It is called DIETARY FAT and is completely separate from body fat or adipose tissue. Fat does not make you fat. Carbs do not make you fat. Protein does not make you fat. Too much of any or all of these can cause weight gain. The quality of these foods matter, and the quantity matters too.
Food is information. And fats are full of wildly powerful helpful (or unhelpful) information for our bodies. Our bodies, brains, and cell membranes are made partly of fat. Having enough healing fats in our diets is essential for us to function optimally.
So let's talk about the QUALITY of your fats. There are two basic types of fat to understand:
Unsaturated vs Saturated fats.
Unsaturated Fats are known as the "healthy fats"
and include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These include the essential Omega 3 fatty acids that we need to ingest to survive (or body does not make them on it's own). They are the building blocks of cell membranes, and responsible for the list of functions below:
increase brain health & cognition
support healthy hormones and fertility
decrease symptoms of PMS and period cramps
a natural way to help deal with acne
can help prevent chronic disease
support against anxiety and depression, even postpartum depression
control blood sugar spikes, keeping your fuller and mentally present for longer
decrease cravings and make weight loss easier
The Standard American Diet is incredibly low in these nutrients. In fact, the average american diet is now at a 20:1 ratio of inflammatory vs anti inflammatory fats. Meaning on average, we are eating 20X more unhealthy fats than beneficial, anti inflammatory fats.
Need a little more evidence? A recent and the most comprehensive review on omega 3 fats looked at 19 studies from 16 countries (including 45,637 participants) and found that those with the highest levels of omega 3 fats in their blood had lower risks of heart attacks.
Wondering where to find these in real food? I thought you'd never ask.
salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines
eggs (found in the yolk!)
high quality oils (olive, avocado, flaxseed, coconut oils)
nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, macadamia, etc)
cacao (dark chocolate- the higher % the better!)
seeds (chia, flax, hemp seeds)
Now, let's come in with some of the less helpful fats.
These are called saturated fats.
Most saturated fats are known to cause inflammation in the body. The majority of processed foods are made with these fats because they are cheap, shelf stable, and add taste and texture. The issue here is that these high amounts of these fats are linked to chronic disease, mental health disorders, cardiovascular disease, hormone dysregulation, and chronic inflammation.
Wondering where to find these in real food?
milk, yogurt, cheese, cream, regular butter
vegetable oils, safflower, soybean, sunflower, corn, and cottonseed oils
hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
margarine and shortening
coconut** and palm oil
**Coconut is technically a saturated fat but so full of amazing benefits. The type of fatty acids that make up coconut oil's saturated fat content is medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) and are about 65% of its fat content.
OKAY SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN YOUR LIFE?
Start by looking at the types of fats you are consuming. Do you find more omega 3's or omega 6 and 9 (inflammatory) sources?
Change always starts with clarity.
So let's gain some clarity with your diet, your life.
Compare the two lists above. Can you start adding in one source of healthy fats into your day today? I encourage my clients to add in a source of healthy fats to every, single meal. Every meal is a choice and an opportunity to nourish your body and function more optimally.
Start where you are and pay attention to how you feel when adding in one serving (1-2 tbsp) of healthy fats into your day!
If you find yourself overwhelmed by nutrition information and struggling to find what consistent application looks like in your life, sign up for my program today!