Everything You Need to Know About Eating Fat

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Are you Eating the Right Fat?

If you believe that eating fats and oils is a no-no, you might be in for a surprise. Fat is a vital component to a balanced diet and is a requirement in order for the body to function properly. But TOO much or the WRONG fats can be a problem. With all the information out there on how to eat, it’s important to understand not just fads, diets, and tips but the actual needs of your body.

Given how many protocols and eating lifestyles purport their benefits and dismiss the science of others, it can be tricky to figure out which combinations of foods are best for your own needs. In fact, it can feel like there’s a new discovery about the best way to eat every week making you question if we’re ‘doing it right’!

Lately, it’s the popularity of the Paleo and Keto diets that has turned prevailing knowledge on its head, largely because of the emphasis these protocols place on eating significant quantities of healthy fats. I do not believe those are the best diets for people to eat (unless you are a diabetic patient who chooses to eat a low carb diet following the ketogenic strictness)

No matter what eating lifestyle you follow, newer science is showing us that there are more benefits to eating higher quantities of healthy fats than we previously thought. In fact, research is showing that the body is built to use fats as a major source of energy – some evidence even suggests that fat is a better energy source than carbohydrates! It’s a fact that fat is also important to a wide variety of healthy functions in the body.

What are the benefits to eating healthy fats?  Many!

Good fats:

  • Help build strong cell membranes for individual cells as well as the sheaths surrounding nerves
  • Assist in blood clotting, in muscle movement, and in controlling inflammation
  • Are essential for absorbing certain vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Can promote weight-loss
  • Help encourage blood sugar stability
  • Are a key factor in achieving hormonal balance
  • Play a critical role in brain function, memory, and attention span
  • Have a direct impact on the quality of hair, skin, and nail growth

These reasons should be enough for all of you to realize how important it is to include fats in your nutrition plans!

But I thought fats were bad?

For a long time that was a common way of thinking. The reality is that the reason fats have been stigmatized was because of politics in the 1970s, when panels designed to choose the best diet were corrupted by low fat vegetarian advocates.  That set the stage for a “low fat” diet to be considered the best diet of all. However, the science does not support that (even though there are low fat vegetarians still advocated that eating plan today).

Medical nutritional science understands that not all fat sources are created equal – just like not all vegetables are equal (for example, iceberg lettuce cannot nutritionally compare with its dark, leafy counterparts, kale, romaine and spinach). There are different kinds of fats and to make understanding them easier, I like to think of fats as being on a continuum. On one end of the continuum are good fats like Omega-3 and monounsaturated and on the other end are bad fats like industrial-made trans fats in processed foods. Saturated fats, food in most animal products and nuts and seeds, fall somewhere in the middle.

It’s important especially to avoid partially hydrogenated oils (PHO), AKA trans fat, vegetable fat and vegetable shortening.  These have been shown to cause heart disease. Unfortunately, many foods are removing the PHO and substituting fully hydrogenated oils, which are equally bad oils and need to be fully avoided as they can significantly raise your glucose numbers.  

So which fats should you be eating?

Choosing mostly Omega-3 and monounsaturated fats, followed by a moderate amount of naturally present saturated fats in foods is your best strategy.

Omega-3 and monounsaturated oils are associated with reduced risk of: heart disease, depression and anxiety, risk of cancer, risk of insulin resistance, inflammation, bone loss, weight gain.  Those are great benefits!

Here are sources of Omega-3 and monounsaturated oils:

  1. Omega-3 oils: salmon, herring, trouts, sardines, omega-3 enriched eggs, walnuts, pasturized raised dairy products, organic, grass fed/finished meats and poultry, leafy greens, flax and chia seeds.
  2. Monounsaturated oils: Avocado, olives and extra virgin organic olive oil, nuts/seeds, coconut oils, whole milk, peanuts.

I recommend adding fats into your diet slowly, especially if you’ve been avoiding them until now. Digesting anything well requires that the body has certain underlying requirements met including healthy gut flora and enzyme production. This is true in the case of fats as well. Both bile from the gallbladder and lipase from the pancreas are needed to digest and absorb fatty foods.

Are you eating right for your mind, hormone production, your metabolism? Get out of the “fat free” cycle and into a healthier diet that includes good fats. I have tools to analyze your body’s nutrient needs and can help experience optimal health every day through nutrition that’s ideal for you.

Call us today: 480-284-8155

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