30 Apr Fat Gets a Bad Rap!
First of all, we have gone WAY too far in badmouthing fat! Ok, certain kinds of fat can be bad for us such as saturated fats or trans fatty acids but there are good fats that are essential to our body in many different ways.
In many parts of the nutritional “universe”, we have traded fat for carbohydrates and assumed that all fats are bad and contribute to weight gain. When in reality, eating the good kinds of fats can actually tip the scales in our favor. In fact, CDC data shows that while Americans consumed a lower percentage of calories from fat in 2000 than they did in 1971, the total number of calories consumed per day actually has increased by 300! This is likely the result of food manufacturers replacing the fat in foods with sugar or some other taste-altering substance. We all know what has been happening to the obesity rates since then too….up, up, and up!
The human body has a natural affinity for fat because it adds taste to food but more importantly, it helps the body absorb key vitamins such as A, D, K, and E. Good fats can help improve cholesterol levels, help reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes, and protect against cardiovascular disease. Fat also adds a sense of satiety we get from foods.
Yep! Those pesky man-made fats we call trans-fats are not good for us. They can raise bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower good (HDL) cholesterol. These fats are modified chemically through a process called hydrogenation which allows for longer shelf life of many foods. Unfortunately, we may not even be aware that they are in the foods we consume because of some tricky labeling laws. To avoid trans-fats, stay away from any food with an ingredient panel listing hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils.
The fats that you want on your team are:
Polyunsaturated fats which tend to be liquid at room temperature like oils. These can help reduce the risk of type2 diabetes. Coconut oil, MCT oil, or Safflower oil are some examples. Ask us about MCT oil!
Monounsaturated fats are found in foods such as avocados or green olives or even peanut butter. Consumption of these fats has been shown to improve cholesterol levels.
Omega-3 fatty acids (typically found in fish oils) are found in salmon, sardines, and even walnuts! It is very difficult to actually get enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids in your daily diet. You would have to eat salmon 3 times a week in order to reap the heart benefits without other forms of supplementation. Omega-3 Fatty Acids help protect against cardiovascular disease and brain function.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids also help the body decrease the risk of coronary disease. They can be found in almond butter and seeds. Omega-6 is very prevalent already in many of the foods we eat so the key is bringing up the level of Omega-3 to match it.
Hopefully, we will all look at fats in a different, friendlier light and enjoy foods that are rich in these “good” fats. They can help protect our bodies from disease, help provide us with the energy needed for the day, and help us lose weight in the process!