Getting to Know The “Good Fats”
If you believe that fats and oils are off the table as a dinner choice, you might be in for a surprise. Fat is actually a vital component to a balanced diet and is a requirement in order for the body to function properly. The problem is when your body takes in TOO much or the WRONG kinds of fat. With all the information out there on how to eat, it’s important to understand not just fads, diets, and tips but the actual needs of your body.
Every diet and lifestyle eating regime out there seems to extravagantly promote its own benefits while dismissing the science of others. It can be tricky to figure out which combinations of foods are really best for our own, unique bodies! In fact, it can feel like there’s a new discovery about the best way to eat every week making us question if we’re ever “doing it right”!
Lately it’s the popularity of the Paleo and Keto diets that has turned prevailing knowledge on its head, largely because of the emphasis these protocols place on eating significant quantities of healthy fats.
No matter what eating lifestyle you follow, newer science is showing us that there are more benefits to eating higher quantities of healthy fats than we previously thought. In fact, research is showing that the body is built to use fats as a major source of energy – some evidence even suggests that fat is a better energy source than carbohydrates! Fat is also important to a wide variety of healthy bodily functions.
- Help build strong cell membranes for individual cells as well as the sheaths surrounding nerves
- Assist in blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation control
- Are essential for absorbing certain vitamins A, D, E, and K, and calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, and zinc among other vitamins and minerals.
- Can promote weight-loss
- Help encourage blood sugar stability
- Are a key factor in achieving hormonal balance
- Play a critical role in brain function, memory, and attention span
- Have a direct impact on the quality of hair, skin, and nail growth
These reasons should be enough for all of us to realize how important it is to include, rather than cut out, fats in our nutrition plans!
“But I thought fats were bad?”
For a long time that was a common way of thinking. The reality is that the reason fats have been stigmatized was because our understanding of how different fats work was still developing – and because we’d been eating too much of the wrong ones!
We understand now that not all fat sources are created equal – just like not all vegetables are equal (just compare iceberg lettuce with it’s dark, leafy counterparts, romaine and spinach). There are a lot of different kinds of fats; to understand them more easily, think of fats as being on a continuum. On one end of the continuum are “good fats” like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and on the other end are “bad fats” like industrial-made trans fats in processed foods. Saturated fats fall somewhere in the middle.
“So which fats should I be eating?”
Choosing mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, followed by a moderate amount of naturally present saturated fats in foods, is your best strategy. Obviously you’ll want to avoid bad fats – this will actually probably be easier than you think because they’re mostly present in treats and junk foods that shouldn’t be the foundation of your diet anyway!
Recent studies on Coconut Oil have found it to be useful in the reduction of body fat in the belly as well as helping to reduce Body Mass index (BMI). Just like any other nutrient, consuming a variety of fat sources is key to finding balance in your nutrition. Not only because variety is important in any diet, but because different foods are more than just a kind of fat, they offer different beneficial vitamins, minerals, and fibre too!
10 Source of Healthy Dietary Fat
- Dark Chocolate
- Whole Eggs
- Fatty Fish
- Chia Seeds
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coconut & Coconut Oil
- Full Fat Yogurt
We recommend adding fats into your diet slowly, especially if you’ve been avoiding them until now. Your body needs to have developed healthy gut flora and enzyme production, among other things, in order to digest fats (or really anything) well. We’ve talked about gut flora at length, but enzymes (like lipase, the enzyme that helps break down and digest fats) are also a vital part of healthy digestion – but that’s a whole other conversation (stay tuned!).
Are you eating right for your mind, hormone production, metabolism? Get out of the “fat free” cycle and into a healthier diet that includes good fats. We have tools to analyze your body’s nutrient needs and can help experience optimal health every day through nutrition that’s ideal for you. Call our clinic for more personalized advice and support!
- The Team at HealthSource Integrative Medical Centre