Healthy fats help us in so many ways. Yet often times, when people decide it’s time to get skinny, they want to to give up fats, even the good kind. In an effort to be healthy and lose some weight, they go on a “diet”.
I hate the word “diet.” It has a negative connotation. It brings thoughts of starving yourself by consuming rice cakes and water all day. Meanwhile, your stomach growls and you can’t help dreaming about all the foods you can’t have. It’s cruel and unusual punishment.
Fats are a primary macronutrient essential for good health.
To make matters worse, grocery stores are packed with “diet” foods to supposedly help you enjoy all your normal foods but with less fat. The packaging leads you to believe that these foods will help you on your way to good health and weight loss.
DON’T FALL FOR THE TRAP!
It’s a lie.
Those foods, while they may be lower in fat, can also be filled with fake ingredients and added sugar to replace the flavor from the missing fat. More often than not, the result is extra carbohydrates and not the good kind. The empty kind that will actually trick your brain into thinking you need more of it.
Soon enough, you’ll be right back to where you started and that kinda defeats the point, right?
Foods with fat get a bad rap and I’m here to tell you that the low-fat bandwagon is something you need to jump off of, right away.
Healthy Fats Help: How
Fat is an integral part of our nutrition. If you are trying to get healthy, cutting fat alone won’t do it. You just want to make sure to eat the right kinds of fat.
Healthy fats help do several things for you:
- Healthy fats help release the CCK hormone to your brain. This hormone tells the body that you’re satisfied and can stop eating.
That’s why many of us tend to over-eat all the low-fat, starchy carbs. We don’t get that satisfied signal from those empty carbs until we’ve overdone it and it’s too late!
- Healthy fats help regulate your insulin and blood sugar levels by slowing the entry rate of sugar from what carbs you do eat into the bloodstream. The result is longer lasting energy throughout your day, instead of a quick rush and crash that carbs alone give. Fat is great energizing fuel!
- Healthy fats help keep our skin soft.
- Healthy fats help deliver fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) to our bloodstream.
- Healthy fats like Omega 3s (found in fatty fish like salmon) help lower blood pressure, control clotting and can lower triglycerides. Omega 3s also help fight inflammation, the leading cause of in a growing number of health problems.
- Healthy fats help improve blood cholesterol levels, reducing risk of heart disease.
Notice a trend? Healthy fats help!
Healthy Fats Help: Quality
When it comes to healthy fats, quantity and quality makes a difference. Let’s first take a look at what qualifies as a healthy fat by examining the various kinds of fats.
Trans fats are the “bad boys” in the fats world. Also labeled as “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated,” trans fats are basically a kind of fat that has been processed to make the food have a longer shelf life. Longer shelf life sounds good until you know some of the tradeoffs:
- Trans fat can raise our bad cholesterol.
- Trans fat can lower our good cholesterol.
- Trans fat is associated with raising your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
You can see we really need to limit trans fats in our diets.
Where do you find trans fats? Things like some stick margarine, shortening, fast food, cookies, crackers, granola bars, and microwave popcorn.
Fortunately, trans fats are gradually being removed from a lot of packaged foods. Still, you need to read your labels cause food manufacturers are sneaky. When you find them, put them down and walk away. Just walk away.
Saturated fats are usually hard at room temperature. They have had a bad rap as well over many years for fear that they cause a climb in cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease. Lately however, doctors are saying that’s not necessarily true.
Based on the benefits of saturated fats, we quickly see that we need this kind of fat to be healthy:
- Liver health: Saturated fat encourages liver cells to dump their fat cells, which helps the liver to function more effectively. Your liver needs to be healthy so it can filter out the toxins you might be bringing in.
- Immunity: Saturated fatty acids, especially the kinds found in grass-fed organic butter and organic coconut oil, help white blood cells to recognize and destroy invading viruses and bacteria.
TIP: Coconut Oil has made serious strides in the world of health, nutrition, and even beauty habits. Some people recommend consuming a tablespoon of it per day.
- Heart health: Saturated fat is actually the preferred fuel for your heart! Quite the opposite from what we’ve been told all these years.
A meta-analysis published recently, which put together data from 21 studies and included almost 348,000 adults, found no difference in the risks of heart disease and stroke between people with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat.
- Cholesterol: As far as cholesterol goes, former director of the Framingham Heart study William Castelli stated:
“… the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person’s serum cholesterol… We found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active.”
- Weight Loss and Healthy Metabolism: When you are trying to get healthy or lose weight by cleaning up your nutrition and cutting out junk and extra carbs or empty calories, adding healthy fats may help boost your results.
When you eat fat, your brain receives the signal that you are full and satisfied and it can stop you from overeating before you’ve even realized you’ve done it! Studies have shown that those people who go ultra low-fat in their diets, tend to overeat in the long run because they are still hungry. They usually end up replacing the fats with more unhealthy carbs that essentially are a nutritional nightmare. Not only that, but low-fat goods generally have more calories. The results? Low-fat foods can actually make you fatter.
- Vitamin and mineral absorption: Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble, which means they need to have fat alongside them to be able to better absorb into your body and be useful. Calcium can be absorbed by your bones more effectively when saturated fat is included in your diet.
Saturated fats can be found in meats, chicken, full fat dairy products and coconut oil. These foods also pack a multitude of nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Of course, you need to eat all saturated fats in moderation. Furthermore, not all saturated fats are the same. So pay attention to the source of the saturated fat… that is key.
Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. This lovely list includes oils which are loaded with unsaturated fats: olive, peanut, avocado, sesame and grapeseed. Not all unsaturated fats are liquid though. Things like avocados, almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts and peanut butter also contain unsaturated fats.
When choosing fats for your diets, unsaturated fats are what you’ll focus on the most. Benefits of unsaturated fats include:
- Unsaturated fats increase good cholesterol levels.
- Unsaturated fats lower triglycerides.
- Unsaturated fats lower blood pressure.
- Omega 3 fatty acids (found in foods like fatty, cold-water fish, such as salmon, sardines, and tuna) are shown to be beneficial to your heart, reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases and some types of cancer.
Healthy Fats Help: List
Let’s summarize the list of healthy fats you should consume regularly:
- Flaxseed (ground and oil)
- Raw nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pecans and pistachios
- Seeds such as sunflower, flax, and pumpkin
- Olives and Olive Oil
- Coconuts and Coconut Oil
- Nut butters
- Grass-fed butter
- Grass-fed meats
Healthy Fats Help: Quantity
Obviously, quantity of fat matters. Even when we eat healthy, we can still eat too much. Fat is high in calories, so it can lead to weight gain if you overdo it. Per gram, it has more than twice the calories of proteins or carbs. Bottom line: too much of a good thing is NOT a good thing. So watch your portion sizes!
Healthy Fats Help: Conclusion
Healthy fats in and of themselves do not have a negative impact on your body you’ve been led to believe. As you can tell, they help you in so many ways. In fact, they’re a primary macronutrient essential for good health.
So embrace their potential for improving your overall health. Don’t let fats scare you. Healthy fats help… and that’s the skinny on fats!
What about you? Do you eat healthy fats regularly? If so, what are your favorites? If not, why not?