If you are reading this and you are over the age of 30 you grew up in a highly non-fat culture. If you did get healthy fats, you were likely in an alternative or nutrition-based household! OR you might have been getting some fats that turned out not to be so healthy. Let’s see what we SHOULD be eating for fat!
Why is fat important?
Healthy fat is very important for many many functions in the body. From cell walls to satiation (feeling full and satisfied), to hormone balance, immunity and beyond. Without it, you get all types of dysfunction like poor transitions into menopause, painful cycles, disorders related to reproduction, immunity issues like autoimmunity or poor immune function, and more. The great news is that it will actually help you from gaining weight (if in balance) and help you feel full and good!
I have talked about the quality of oil sources and cooking previously, you can check that out here, but I am going to go beyond that here today.
What about heart disease?
So, everyone is different and some bodies need less fat than others and some need more. This is something that I help evaluate in functional nutrition, but in general, we really all need a generally balanced amount of nutrients across the board from fat to protein to carbs. The quality and types of these nutrients are where things can go wrong, as well as the ratio.
Heart disease is more a disease of processed food, and poor fat sources combined. A lot of processed foods are low fat, or poor fat sources (more on that to come), and high in refined processed carbohydrates. This combination increases inflammation. That includes on the arteries and heart. This inflammation needs repair. Cholesterol is the thing that repairs that near the heart. NOW, with a poor fat source and contact inflammation the cholesterol cannot just heal and leave – it stays, stuck there trying to do its job. And when it can’t ever leave (like Hotel California, or your home right now?!) it piles up. Then you develop issues.
How should cholesterol and healthy fats work?
Cholesterol should go to the site of inflammation repair it and clean out (HDL). With healthy fat sources, this process happens effectively. In fact, in some cases just by changing your fat source, and reducing processed foods you can reverse some of this build-up!
However, when you get processed fats like canola, vegetable and other similarly processed oils you continue the cycle of inflammation and there is an imbalance. These poor oils also cause digestive distress and which causes poor nutrient distribution and a cascade effect of cleaning out toxins and processed foods in the body.
What are healthy fats?
This is where we all need to adjust what we thought we knew about fats, and adjust to the actual science of things. Without getting into a long history here, what people believed were healthy fats have been shown to be the opposite.
Tip 1: Think whole food source for healthy fats
Starting by consuming whole foods that contain healthy fats is the best way to not only get those fats but the vitamins (fat-soluble) and minerals that go with them.
Think wild-caught fish and seafood like salmon, sardines, mackerel. These are AMAZING sources of omegas which are essential and can only come from our food source. We cannot make these inside our bodies without the food source.
Think grass-fed pasture-raised beef. This is a healthy source of saturated fats. Saturated fats are NOT THE CAUSE of heart disease. They are necessary again for cellular and body functions. They should be in balance with the other fats you consume as well. A plant-based source is avocado.
Chicken is also a healthy source in the whole food form. Please be sure to look for pastured hens.
Pork also contains some fats, but pork is higher inflammatory meat naturally and pigs often are fed feed and not great sources of other foods. Talk to your local farmer about their pigs and make a determination if this is for you.
On top of these being healthy fat sources, they are also great protein sources. So you get both benefits. Most women, especially, do not get enough protein.
Tip 2: Make your vegetables delicious with fat
Many people do not eat vegetables. And often buy frozen over fresh (which there isn’t a huge difference nutritionally but they do taste different). Without knowing how to season and cook vegetables, or combine them, they may seem very bland. They will be “boring” and off-tasting to anyone who has a high soda or refined sugar diet due to taste bud altering from that type of processed sugar and foods diet.
Using butter, lard, tallow, avocado oil, ghee (clarified butter), and adding olive oil at the end of the cooking process makes delicious vegetables. Adding simple spices like salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and similar powders also help. Try Italian style herbs as well.
Tip 3: Skip processed oils completely
This tip is more important than anything else! We do not want to consume processed canola, vegetable and other mixes of highly processed oils. If you don’t really know what the oil is, or the seeds mentioned – avoid it. These oils are processed with many chemicals, of which, cause oxidation. This is what causes or can lead to cellular breakdown and things like cancer, or immune dysfunction.
On a basic level consuming the processed oils also creates a build-up, or back up, in the bile ducts in the gallbladder and can lead to stones or other complications. This same thing can be shown with non-fat or low-fat diets.
For each meal think to yourself, do I have some healthy fat here? Did I cook healthy fat? Does my protein have healthy fat? How can I add some to this meal? Remember you want a nice balance of 40-30-30 (carbs, protein, fat).
If you are looking to work on symptoms related to digestion, gallbladder, liver, immunity or more – let me help you find what works for your body!