Fat may be a small three letter word but it has made an enormous impact on people everywhere. Is fat really the largest contributor to our countries growing Obesity problem? Please let me help you understand that this is not the case. Fat is essential to our well being!
Not only is fat a necessary source of fuel for your body, but it is also extremely important to keep you insulated and protected from the outside environment. When you consume the right kinds of fat, your body is able to absorb and use nutrients to help it function and even better, to keep your immune system healthy and strong.
Types of Fat
Unsaturated Fats (Healthy Fats)
Unsaturated fats include two categories: polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. These fats are found in plant foods and fish and are extremely beneficial for your health. These fats can be consumed in higher quantities as they are used by the body for health and well being, not as storage and “fat” building. Simply put, this fat will not make you fat!
The best sources of unsaturated fats include olive oil, tuna, cod, salmon, hemp hearts, chia seeds, flax seeds, and almonds.
Saturated fats are found in animal products and if consumed in high amounts can lead to many health problems such as a rise in blood cholesterol levels and an increase in your risk of heart disease. These fats are best consumed in moderation and include such things as butter, cheese and animal meat.
There is an exception to the saturated fat rule. Coconut Oil, though a saturated fat, does not work in the body the same as other saturated fats. Coconut oil is considered a Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) and is quickly absorbed by the liver and used in the body for energy. It can be consumed daily and has proven benefits for the body.
These fats are what I consider, man-made fats. They are found in things like margarine, pre-packaged foods and in many foods we get at a restaurant. Similar to saturated fats, trans-fats raise cholesterol, but even worse, they lower HDL cholesterol aka the good cholesterol. As a result, these fats can lead to an increased risk for heart disease. These should be avoided at all times!
If you see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils on a foods label, you want to stay away from it.
Putting it Altogether
It amazes me to see all of the products that are on store shelves with the label fat free. Here is my question to you. If you remove the fat, what do you think it is replaced with? Take yogurt for example. If you remove the fat, you have to replace it with something, or else it wouldn’t stay thick. They replace it with chemicals that your body has to work with. The only problem is, you body has no clue as to what to do with this chemicals as it was not designed to handle them. This can wreak havoc
on your body.
Let’s look at another food I see frequently being consumed without fat; eggs. There are many diets out there that tell you to avoid the egg yolk because it is high in cholesterol and fat. Here is the thing. I believe that eating too many eggs can be harmful to your body, but really, consuming them a few times a week (1-2 eggs at a time), in their whole food form, is not going to hurt you. If you eat the white only, your body will be craving the fat that should have been consumed and you will find it somewhere else throughout the day. My point? Eat and enjoy the whole food, fat and all.
Tips for living a Happy Healthy Life
- Limit fat in your diet, but don't try to cut it out completely
- Focus on reducing foods high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol
- Fill your tummy on fruits and vegetables
- Eat real food
- Avoid fat free products
Consider these tips when making your choices
- Sauté with olive oil or coconut oil
- Use olive oil, avocado oil or flax oil to make your own salad dressings and marinades
- Sprinkle slivered nuts or sunflower seeds on salads
- Enjoy hemp hearts, chia seed and flax seed in smoothies, on salads or in baking
- Try my banana muffins
- Snack on a small handful of nuts
- Try almond butter (or another nut butter) on celery, bananas, or rice or popcorn cakes
- Add slices of avocado, rather than cheese, to your salads and sandwiches
- Eat fish 1-2 times per week (cod, salmon, mackerel, tilapia)
So, as you can see FAT can definitely be your friend as long as you choose the right sources. Do you have any recipes you love to eat that are full of healthy fat? I would love to hear about them or see pictures.
All the best in Health,
Deanne Dietz, Naturotherapist, Certified Nutritionist, CNP, B.Ed
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