FAT – there are soooo many opinions on this one topic.
Just take a look at the grocery aisle and you’ll see FOUR different types of milk, all based on the fat content → skim, 1%, 2% & Whole.
And, while things are changing for the better, many of us grew up being told one thing about fat:
FAT 👏 IS 👏 BAD 👏
It leads to weight gain, heart disease, and even cancer, right?
Now… if that’s the culture you grew up with, there’s a good chance you try to avoid fat altogether these days. Maybe you go for skim milk and low-fat cottage cheese. Maybe you opt for margarine over butter and avoid avocados & nuts.
But what if I told you that choosing the “low-fat” alternative over the “full-fat” product was actually doing a disservice to your health?
If you don’t believe me, read on to find out why!
The Different Types of Fat.
To start, did you know there are actually *four* different types of fat?
- Trans fat
- Saturated fat
- Polyunsaturated fat
- Monounsaturated fat
Not every fat is created equal, which is a major reason why the conversation around fat can be so confusing!
So, let’s set the record straight here.
❌ Trans fats, which are found in processed foods like donuts, cakes, vegetable oils, and crackers, are bad for your health. Avoid this kind of fat at all costs.
✅ Unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) on the other hand are good fats that the body actually needs to function optimally.
✅ Saturated fats are also considered good fats, containing many health benefits, but there is some evidence that suggests we shouldn’t go overboard on this type.
So, lumping ALL fats together and labeling them as “bad” is completely misguided. And sadly, it has resulted in a fear of fat, when in reality most fats actually provide incredible health benefits.
So, Why Do You Need Fat?
Fat is an essential part of a healthy diet.
For starters, it’s an excellent source of essential fatty acids, like omega-3 and omega-6, which the body can’t make on its own.
These nutrients assist in critical processes like:
- Hormone Production
- Thyroid Function
- Adrenal Function
- Brain Development
- Nervous System Regulation
- Immune Response
- And so much more!
That’s a lot of very important processes right there! 👆
And that’s not all.
Have you ever heard of the term “fat-soluble vitamins”?
Fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E *require* fat in order to be used by your body. That’s why it’s smart to take these vitamins with some nuts or a dollop of butter – anything with a little fat in it!
Some other key health benefits of eating fat include:
- It protects your bones.
- It gives you energy.
- It lowers your risk of heart disease.
- It lowers blood pressure.
- It fights inflammation.
Plus, healthy fats can actually promote weight loss – YES, it’s true!
Because healthy fats take longer to metabolize and help balance your blood sugar, they keep you full longer and prevent overeating.
But Aren’t Saturated Fats Unhealthy?
There’s a big fear that eating saturated fats will lead to heart disease based on some older research. But today, doctors are taking a hard look at the research and realizing that it’s not actually useful to look at saturated fat in isolation.
For example, egg yolks contain saturated fat and they’re packed with health-promoting nutrients. Ice cream also contains saturated fat, along with a hefty amount of sugar, but it would be harmful to eat a scoop every morning for breakfast.
So, the takeaway here is not to swear off certain foods simply because they contain saturated fat. And similarly, don’t believe that a food is healthy simply because it’s labeled “low-fat” or “fat-free”.
In fact, many of those yogurts you see at the store with “fat-free” labels are loaded with sugar and harmful chemicals. 🙅♀️
Top Tips for Incorporating More Fat into Your Diet.
If you’ve read this far you’re hopefully ready to start eating some more healthy fats. 👏
Here are some great ways to get started:
#1. Eat more fish.
Fish are an excellent source of DHA and EHA, which are two essential fatty acids. Incorporate more fish into your diet by using it to top salads, and rice bowls, and create dips/spreads you can snack on all week long.
#2. Opt for the “full-fat” version.
“Full fat” products contain more nutrients (and often more flavor!) than their “low fat” alternatives. Plus, those alternatives are usually loaded with sugar to make up for the loss of taste, which is much more harmful to your health.
#3. Sprinkle your meals with seeds.
Seeds may be tiny, but they’re jam-packed with nutrients and healthy fats! Sprinkling them on dishes is such an easy way to up your fat intake. Hemp and flax seeds in particular have a nutty flavor that tastes delicious on top of dishes like oatmeal, salads, and veggie bowls.
#4. Use extra virgin olive oil for your dressing.
There’s no need to fear the oil! Extra virgin olive oil is filled with healthy fats and other powerful nutrients that support your brain, heart, and nervous system. It’s actually a central ingredient used in blue zones across the world, which are areas where people live the longest!
#5. Consider a supplement.
Maybe you’re allergic to fish, nuts, or another high-fat food group? Or maybe you dislike the taste? Taking a supplement is an easy way to make sure you’re getting the essential fats you need. I recommend taking a fish oil supplement, or an algae oil supplement if you have a dietary restriction.
Hopefully, that gets your wheels turning, but if you’re looking for a handful of tasty recipes that are packed with healthy fats, check out this list of 6 Satisfying Recipes with Healthy Fats. The avocado mint pesto & chia pudding looks easy + delicious. 😋
The Takeaway On Fat.
So, here’s my challenge to you:
While it might feel intuitive for you to avoid fat thanks to the fear-mongering messaging many of us grew up with, try to embrace healthy fats in this new chapter of your life.
Your body will thank you! 💪
If you’re looking for some personalized nutrition & health support, send me an email!