Among the plethora of misinformation circulating about nutrition, one detrimental falsehood is receiving the rectification that it deserves. I’m talking about healthy fats, and yes, there is such a thing. The word “fat” itself is incredibly daunting, and we have been conditioned to believe that all fat is bad fat. Fats are actually a vital part of our everyday diet, and when consumed in moderation, they are extremely beneficial to our body’s daily function.
Trans Fats have given all fats a bad rep, and we’ve been losing out on the benefits of good fats because of it.
Preceding the end of World War II , a correlation had been linked between the consumption of high cholesterol foods such as eggs and red meat leading to ailments such as coronary heart disease. In lieu of this, The American Diet Association recommended that people reduced their intake of fats, and increased their intake of carbohydrates. This “adjustment” led to a whole new selection of issues, such as anal leakage, and an increase of refined carbohydrates and sugars. In turn, the rates of obesity and diabetes are at an all time high- and it is mostly due to the consumption of refined carbohydrates that were meant to replace the detrimental fats. A study published by The New England Journal of Medicine diffused the argument that the depletion of fats was beneficial in terms of increased lifespan or prevention of disease.
When you compare our eating habits to those of the Mediterranean diet, the difference is uncanny. Food items containing healthy fats have always been prevalent in this region; with items like olives and their coveted oil as a staple in the dining room. The proof is in the people, who boast low cholesterol levels, low rates of heart disease, beautiful skin, and lean bodies.
Healthy fats have a polar opposite effect on the body than bad fats do.
Yes, it’s true. Some fats can be good for you and are a necessity for a balanced diet. But how do you differentiate them from the rest? It’s all in the name. Anything containing Trans fats are a big no-no, and will wreak havoc on your body (and your mid-section). Instead you want to consume Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats as well as Omega 3s.
Nothing that is unnatural can really be good for you. Trans fats are a perfect example of this They are actually a byproduct of a process called hydrogenation, where liquid vegetable oils are heated with a heavy metal additive such as palladium, changing the chemical composition and making the oil solid. This process also strips the oil of any nutritional value. Consuming trans fats can cause inflammation, which can later lead to heart disease stroke and diabetes. The introduction of trans fats into the blood stream raises the presence of harmful LDL cholesterol, and lowers the beneficial HDL cholesterol. The ADA has recommended that your caloric intake from trans fat should be less then 2% which can still be harmful to the body, mostly the arteries.
Saturated fats can be distinguished by their form at room temperature. Coconut oil, one of the most renowned oil based products on the market is solid at room temperature. This is true of all saturated fats. The term saturated comes from the chemical composition of the oils. The organic matter starts with one carbon atom, which is surrounded by hydrogen atoms. If the carbon chain is abundant with hydrogen atoms, then it is saturated. The ADA recommends that you keep your daily intake of calories from saturated fats below 10%.
Monounsaturated fats– now we’re getting to the good stuff. These stay liquid at room temperature. Items such as olive oil, peanut oil, avocado oil, most nut oils, safflower and sunflower oil. These fats have a single carbon to carbon bond, which is how they stay liquid at room temperature. There is no recommended daily intake other than to consume as much healthy fat as possible.
Polyunsaturated fats are considered essential to the diet. That means your body needs it to function, but does not produce it on its own. Therefore you need to consume lots of it to ensure that your body runs like the perfect machine it was intended to be. These are incredible beneficial because they help to build cell membranes and the coverings for nerves. They are also vital for muscle movement, blood clotting, and inflammation. The name Poly is derived from the Latin term meaning multiple, as in there are multiple double bonds on its carbon chain. Most cooking oils such as safflower and sunflower oils are examples of polyunsaturated fats. There are two types of polyunsaturated fats- Omega 3 and Omega 6. Both are incredibly beneficial to the body.
We need to consume healthy fats daily to improve brain and memory function, and to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Think of Trans Fats as the evil cousin, the black sheep of the family. They clog arteries and cause inflammation. They’ve given the whole fat-family a bad rap. Most other fats, particularly Polyunsaturated fats do just the opposite for the body.
Omega 3’s and 6 are super helpful for body function, by helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering your blood pressure. In addition to this, it helps to higher HDL (the helpful cholesterol), and lower triglycerides. It has shown evidence of improving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Omega 3’s and 6 have also been linked to a number of health benefits such as reducing dementia and improving memory.
Here’s how you can consume the most healthy fats.
The only way to ensure that you incorporate healthy fats into your daily routine is to eat them! Luckily there is a wide selection of delicious foods that are high in healthy fats, and packed with additional benefits and nutritional value.
Packed to the brim with monounsaturated fats, this super food has much more to offer the body. They are also abundant with vitamin E which protects your skin from free radicals, increases immunity, and acts as an anti-aging savior for your skin. It’s super high in protein, as well as folates. This is the go-to snack for pregnant women and just about anyone who is looking for a delicious way to improve their health!
High in Omega 3 and Omega 6, this product provides the body with essential fatty acids that it cannot produce on its own. Daily consumption of ghee can help to improve brain function, as well as the condition of the skin. Ghee (and butter) are high in water soluble vitamins and minerals such as selenium, which is a powerful antioxidant.
I put that ish on everything! My hair, my skin, my food. Try and find something coconut oil ISN’T good for, I’ll wait. This stuff is super easy for your body to digest, so you’ll start to feel the benefits rather quickly. The fatty acids in coconut oil help to promote memory and brain function, as well as reduce inflammation and harmful cholesterol.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Like it’s other oily counterparts, EEVO is extremely helpful for memory and brain function, anti-inflammatory, and helps to protect your skin from damage. No wonder the Italians have such great skin!
Very high in Omega 3s. Salmon, Albacore Tuna, Sardines, Lake Trout and Mackerel are very incredibly abundant in this respect.
One of the only nuts containing Polyunsaturated fats.
Very high in Omega 3 and 6, also a very good source of fiber.
Some farmers provide their chickens with feed that is very high in Omega 3s, resulting in eggs with a very high concentration of Omega 3s as well.
High in unsaturated fats, and abundant with anti-oxidants as well as digestion slowing elements such as stearic acid. It helps to stagger hunger, and fights off free radicals which in turn improve brain function. Chocolate lovers rejoice!
One of the ultimate super foods. Very high in Omega 3s, this magical substance is also high in protein, and probiotics. Fitness gurus swear by it in the aiding of weight loss.
Featured photo credit: Harvard Health via google.com