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healthy fats


1024 1024 Delphine Remy | Holistic Nutrition & Eating Psychology Coach

Fats part deux — When I ask my patients “Will eating fats make you fat?” in an attempt to gauge their knowledge of nutrition and wellness, the common response is yes.

Last week I published “Fats won’t make you fat : Part 1” with the hopes of helping readers understand that fat or “fatty” foods are not bad for you — and are in fact, good for you. There are a number of foods among the list of fatty foods such as avocados, olive oil, nuts and butter that are healthy fats and your body thrives on.

This week I want to delve a little more into this nutrition myth and the details of how eating healthy fats can have a tremendously positive impact on your body.

Myth: Fats make you fat
It is true that many do still believe that eating fats will make you fat and that low fat foods are the way to go. Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this myth was debunked and the low-fat craze of the early 90s did a huge disservice to our bodies and brains. Healthy fats, such as those found in the items listed below are essential to the function of many areas of the body.

  • Avocados
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Salmon, mackerel, sardines
  • Coconut Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Olives
  • Flax Seed

Healthy Fats
Eating foods that contain healthy fats and oils are a great source of energy, help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients, and can assist in proper muscle function. Because fatty acids are absorbed into the blood, they help with blood clotting, regulating blood pressure, immune responses and liver function. The simple act of eating fatty foods can protect the body from chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Did you know the brain alone is about 60 percent fat? So it needs fatty acids to function properly! So which fats should you be eating and which ones should you be avoiding? Let’s have a quick look. There are 4 different types of fat you need to know:

  • Saturated fats
  • Monounsaturated fats
  • Polyunsaturated fats (Omega 3s + Omega 6s)
  • Trans fats

Until I formerly studied Holistic Nutrition, this list of fats may as well have been written in another language. It was unclear and difficult to remember. So if you feel the same way I felt, not to worry — I think I’ve come up with a way to easily remember the information of which fats are good for you and which are bad. The good news most of the fats are good for you. There’s only one out for!

Saturated Fats : check!
Saturated fats are primarily found in animal fats and some tropical oils and up until recently were considered bad for you but as it turns out, science got it wrong and the body does need saturated fats.
Most animal fats are made up of long-chain fatty acids that are hard for the body to metabolize unlike the awesome and amazing coconut oil, which happens to be a prime example of a saturated fat. A few weeks ago, I posted back to back blogs on coconut oil. If you recall — coconut oil has almost supernatural powers both medicinally and in the kitchen. If you’re needing a refresher, check back in on “Reasons to Fall in Love with Coconut Oil : Part 1” and “Reasons to Fall in Love with Coconut Oil : Part 2”refresh your memory on the amazing properties of the lauric and caprylic acids found in the coconut.

Monounsaturated Fats: check!
Monounsaturated fats are the heart of the Mediterranean diet and one of the healthiest type of fats to eat. It’s so surprise, based on more accurate research we now have, that the healthiest people are people who subscribe to a mediterranean diet. Oils that contain monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temp and solid when refrigerated. They are found in olives, olive oil, avocados, sesame oil, peanut oil, and canola oil. Be sure to read the label for NON-GMO when purchasing canola oil in the US and Canada.

Research has shown that a diet containing a lot of monounsaturated fats can decrease the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Omega 3s + Omega 6s : check!
Omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids are both a type of polyunsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fats cannot be produced by the body so they must be obtained from foods. Omega 3s can be found in cold-water high-fat fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. As well as in flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, canola oil. Omega 3’s can also be found in leafy greens such as romaine, spinach, and arugula. Fatty foods that contain fatty acids, such as Omega 3, are the building blocks of your body and essential to cell function. They help with cellular development and the formation of cell membranes that prevent harm or illness.

Unfortunately Omega 6s are typically found in processed foods and oils such as corn and vegetable oils : safflower, sunflower, and cottonseed.

Also with Omega 3s and Omega 6s there is a catch to remember : ideally there should be a 1:1 ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in your daily diet but the average American diet contains about 15 times Omega 6s as Omega 3s! When Omega 6s are eaten at such a high concentration, it creates inflammation leading to blood clots, strokes or heart attacks. You can cut back on Omega 6s by cutting back on processed foods, eating more high fat fish and grass-fed beef to keep this ratio balanced.

You’re probably asking yourself — “okay, so what’s the difference between a healthy fat and unhealthy fat?”

Trans Fats : no!
Trans fats, often referred to as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and oils, are the least healthy fat. They are generally processed into a solid fat by combining liquid oil and hydrogen. Trans fats are commonly found in fast food, processed food, margarines and vegetable shortening and should be avoided at all cost. Research shows that diets high in trans fats promote chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia and cancer.

Quick side note: I do find that patients who are trying to transition over to a more whole food lifestyle struggle due to altered taste buds and find their way back to salty to sugary comfort foods. My recommendation in this scenario is to keep open lines of communication with yourself. If you know you are about to indulge in a food that is unhealthy, and/or potentially harmful to you, talk to yourself and remind yourself of your goals and what you are hoping to achieve. I will say that it is a process and will take time but it does become easier. Over time your body and palate will reset and begin to enjoy the natural textures and flavors of a healthier diet.

The human body benefits in so many ways from eating healthy fats. To improve your overall health, try to avoid trans fats and eat more of these monounsaturated such as avocados, nuts and butters, and oils to help keep you healthy.


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