How to Incorporate Healthy Fats in Your Diet
Knowing which fats are healthy has become a bit of a jungle. For too many years we’ve been told the wrong information. It’s no wonder people have found it difficult to know what’s true. It’s even changed from being medium fat, to low fat, to now there is no upper level. However, knowing how to incorporate healthy fats into your diet will help your body repair itself and heal, even leading to weight loss.
Don’t be scared of fats. They are essential for our bodies. They are one of the 3 essential macronutrients.
Without fat our bodies don’t function. The fat helps control what goes in and out of our cell membranes. Without fat, our cells are depleted and unable to function, in other words they die.
Additionally fat is a source of energy especially required by our brain.
4 Main Types of Fats
Monounsaturated fats: found in olive oil, avocado, and peanuts.
Saturated Fats: mostly found in meat, cheese, milk, butter, cream and eggs.
Polyunsaturated fats: most often found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils, and in cold-blooded sea-foods. They are classified in 2 types, omega 6 and omega 3. Both of these fatty acids are essential for the body and must be sourced from real foods. Oily fish such as herring, salmon and mackerel are excellent sources of omega 3 fatty acids. And plant foods such as nuts containing omega 6 are healthy polyunsaturated fat sources. Hemp seed oil is also an unprocessed option.
Be warned however, many vegetable oils have been highly processed which turns them into unhealthy trans fats, see below.
Trans fats: These fats are what happens after the process of hydrogenation. These are found in vegetable oils that are highly processed and hydrogenated where the chemical structure is changed. These are hence, the most unhealthy They are most often found in processed foods and fast foods.
The Wrong Fats
The convenience of fast foods and processed foods have resulted in these types of oils added to too many foods, eaten too often. Unfortunately, the convenience of takeaway and processed foods we pick up at the grocery store has also led to an imbalance of certain types of fats, namely omega 6 and omega 3.
Additionally, we have also increased our intake of vegetable oils including corn, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, cottonseed, and soybeans. All of which have high levels of omega 6, which on a daily basis, is too much for our systems to manage.Therefore these oils are processed at high temperatures turning them into trans fats.
When these are in the ideal balance of 4:1 ratio we are able to function at an optimal level.
Over time, the ratio of omega 6 fats to omega 3 has become 16:1.. As such this creates inflammation in our body which contributes to all organs not being able to work as effectively as they could. This is how disease develops over a prolonged period of time. Disease including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, unhealthy weight gain, kidney disease, autoimmune diseases and high cholesterol.
We’ve been following the low fat era for too long.
As a result, the fats that have been recommended need to change. The fats we have been consuming predominantly are processed polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable oils, canola oil, and margarine. Studies have shown links between these oils and heart disease.
Naturally occurring polyunsaturated fats on the other hand, such as fish, are essential. If it’s in it’s natural form it’s safe.
The bottom line is if it’s been through an artificial, hydrogenated process at extremely high temperatures -this fat will lead to cardiovascular disease and inflammation.
Benefits and Nutrition of Fats
Increasingly more and more research points to fat being beneficial for our bodies. In particular, saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and naturally occurring polyunsaturated fat.
These fats keep your immune system healthy. They also help with vitamin absorption.
Some vitamins are fat-soluble which cannot function without adequate daily fat intake. These fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K. Therefore, if these fatty acids are in short supply these particular vitamins can’t be absorbed by the body properly.
Leading to various problems:
- Reduced vitamin A absorption results in poor vision.
- Insufficient vitamin D affects bones and their capacity to absorb calcium.
- Deficiency of vitamin E affects the body’s ability to neutralize free radicals, and
- Without vitamin K, the body isn’t able to clot blood.
Fat provides our body with energy for the metabolic process of converting fats into ketones. This is essential for our high energy-hungry brain. It also protects against inflammation and risk of cancer.
Fatty acids have anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic and anti-arrhythmic properties, indicating they reduce cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis among other diseases.
Our brain has a high need for fat which also helps with emotions and mood.
Regulates our hormones and genes.
Additionally, fat has a great flavor and is more filling meaning it makes us eat less.
Avocados contain monounsaturated fats, potassium, magnesium and fiber.
Polyunsaturated fats found in natural foods contain antioxidants. Therefore, these antioxidants eliminate free radicals thus preventing disease.
How do I find healthy fats in my diet?
Excellent sources of healthy fat are:
- Fish: salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies
- Grass fed Butter
- Coconut Oil: refined, unrefined, virgin
- Bacon Fat
- Grass fed animals such as beef, lamb, chicken and pork
- Nuts such as macadamias, walnuts, pecans, and almonds
- Olives and olive oil
- Chia seeds
- Lamb meat
- Cheddar cheese
- Mascarpone cheese
The aim of consuming more fats into the diet is to incorporate more healthy, naturally occurring essential fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6. This will help support the body instead of adding too much pressure and creating a burden on our organs to cope with.
Eating the right kinds of fats will lead to a healthy, better functioning, mentally alert you.