Fat is Not A Foe

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Here's the situation folks, you need fat. Your body needs it for energy for growth and development, your cells and body tissues need it for insulation, cushioning, and protection, you need it in order to metabolize fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K), and you need it for proper nerve and brain function. Certain fats are also involved in the making of steroid hormones within the body (like estrogen and testosterone), which in turn have multiple vital functions within the body. PLUS it helps maintain the moisture and shine of your skin and hair, and keeps you full for longer and may make you feel more satisfied after a meal, thus helping you to lose weight and/or maintain an already healthy weight. The main point here is this: don't fear (or avoid) fat! In fact, the low fat diet is considered old school these days, and is no longer really recommended. Especially because many "low fat" packaged foods just have added sugar to make them palatable after removing all that delicious fat.

Although there are many studies coming out that show that saturated fat actually is not as closely linked with heart disease and/or obesity as we once thought, you should still try to focus more heavily on "healthy" fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), especially foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. (But really, you don't need to avoid saturated fat all together, and eating real butter is better than eating margarine, so go for it. Try out coconut oil too, it can add a delicious tropical and/or Asian flavor boost to your meals. And while it's high in saturated fat, the fat molecules have a different structure than other saturated fats, allowing your body to burn it almost immediately, instead of storing it for future use). 

Essential fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6) are vital for body functions and cannot be synthesized in your body, so you must get them from your diet. But your body needs a balance of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids, while they are very healthy for you, tend to promote inflammation (heyyyy shout out to last week's post!) within your body, while omega 3 fatty acids tend to decrease inflammation. SO really you should be focusing on foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acids, and not worrying too much about scouting out omega-6 foods--most of us get plenty of omega 6.

Examples of foods to enjoy:

Saturated fats--better to use full fat versions of things, mostly because they are much less processed; use in moderation

  • Full fat dairy (including butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, etc)
  • Coconut oil

Monounsaturated fats

  • Avocado and avocado oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Peanuts and peanut oil
  • Olives and olive oil

Polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 and omega 6)--Listed are foods high in omega 3

  • Cold-water fish
    • Halibut
    • Salmon
    • Sardines
    • Herring
    • Mackerel
    • Trout
    • Tuna (also high in mercury so limit your intake)
    • Cod and cod liver oil (if you can stomach that stuff, go with your bad self)
  • Nuts--especially walnuts and nut oils
  • Seeds
    • Sunflower and sunflower oil
    • Flax and flax oil (remember! You can't digest whole flax seeds, so either grind them before you eat them or purchase flax meal)
    • Chia! Not the pet, but the tiny grayish-brown, nutrient-rich seeds (post on these wonder-morsels coming soon)
    • Pumpkin
  • Eggs, especially those that say "omega-3 eggs" on the carton
  • Veggies (especially the dark leafy greens)
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Kale (duh...kale is on almost every list of "good" foods. If you eat a lot of kale, you're probably doin well in the health department)
    • Parsley
    • Mint
    • Spinach
  • Whole grains
    • Barley/faro
    • whole oats
    • Brown rice
  • Some other foods are fortified with essential fatty acids, so take a look at the ingredients list

So do your body (and hair, and skin, and weight, and...) a favor and eat those avocados, those olives, those nuts and seeds. Shoot, go crazy with it and throw some flax meal on that kale and brussels sprout salad (with an olive oil dressing of course). Treat your mouth and body to a satisfying, smooth and oily time. You won't regret it. I promise.