If you’ve been reading about health and nutrition lately, you’ve probably read things like “eat more fat” or “butter is back”.
But before you load up your grocery cart, it’s important to understand that all fat is NOT created equal!
Fat is one of the three macronutrients (the others are protein and carbohydrates). Some fats are important for healing and others cause us harm.
Healthy healing fats support your brain, hormones, immune system, heart health, and moods. Bad fats harm all of these body systems.
The fats from whole foods that are the least processed will be the healthiest for you. Pretty obvious right? However, in order to be able to create change, you will need to know which fats we’re talking about and how to incorporate them into your diet. Read below to get you started:
Health promoting fats are in the following foods and consist of mono and polyunsaturated fats as well as saturated fats.
- Nuts and seeds (including hemp, flax, and chia)
- Fish – Selecting small-species, wild caught fish will help you reduce your exposures to mercury levels that can accumulate.
- Pasture-raised/grass-fed animals/eggs – Yes, the pasture-raised/grass-fed part is important here. Why? Because the fats in animals raised in conventional/overcrowded feedlots are of poor quality due to the unnatural and junk-filled food they are fed. Don’t forget, “you eat what your meat eats”. Check out what your meat is eating here.
- Coconuts – Coconuts are a source of saturated fat. And yes, even though you may have read otherwise, coconut oil is a healthy source of fat to include in your well-balanced diet.
Extra virgin olive oil is agreed by most to be one of the healthiest options. It is great cold in dips and dressings, and can also withstand a moderate amount of heat. By definition, if the “extra virgin” label is used, it must:
- Be cold pressed
- Not contain any refined olive oil
- Possess superior quality based on chemical composition and sensory characteristics.
These standards ensure higher quality. Plus, the minimal processing helps to maintain some of the antioxidants in the oils. What a win!
Now tell me: What’s your favorite fat and why?
Fats that harm are from:
- Seed and vegetable oils like safflower, soybean, and corn oils
- Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated
Hydrogenated oils are particularly bad; this is because they contain small amounts of “trans” fats. Studies show that even small amounts of trans fats lead to insulin resistance, inflammation, belly fat. They also drastically raise the risk of heart disease. Yikes!
Don’t forget, we’re not just talking about the bottles of these fats used for home cooking. We’re also looking at the processed foods that contain them.
How to Include Healthy Fats
First, ditch any foods in your cupboards that contain safflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, or any hydrogenated oil. Soybean oil alone accounts for over 75% of oils consumed by Americans, so it’s likely you have some foods in your cupboard that include it.
Second, try substituting one of the health-building oils whenever you have a recipe that calls for the other stuff. Try flax or extra virgin olive oil as a salad dressing, avocado oil in your cooking, and coconut oil in your baking. To learn more about which oils to cook with click here.
Third, make healthier versions of your go-to processed foods. Here are some great recipes to get you started.
Store-bought mayo with Easy Homemade Mayonnaise
Your candy fix with Chocolate Mint Fat Bombs
Pre-packaged salad dressing with Orange Hemp Seed Salad Dressing
Potato chips with Cheesy Kale Chips
Interested in more recipes including healthy fats? Sign up to download my dinner recipe book for free (all recipes can be made in 20 minutes or less!!)