Your Friend Fat
I am sure you are intimately familiar with the many myths surrounding the consumption, type and amount of fat in your diet:
Fat makes us fat, contributes to heart disease, leads to metabolic syndrome and atherosclerosis; saturated fat is bad; vegetable oils are good…
I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
None of these beliefs about fat are true.
Fat is one of the body’s most basic building blocks. The average person is made up of between 15 and 30 percent fat! Yet for decades, dietary fat has been unjustly demonized and we have all diligently followed a low-fat diet that almost always equates into a high-sugar and high-refined carbohydrate diet. This alone is a huge contributing factor in blood sugar swings, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and numerous other health problems.
Simply put: Sugar, not fat, is the real villain that steals your health and sabotages our waistlines.
Here are some reasons to consider the right type of fat as your friend:
1. Sugar, not fat, makes you fat.
The average person consumes 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of white flour (that converts to sugar) every year. That works out to almost a pound of sugar and flour combined every day! Excess sugar means your cells become immune to insulin and your body needs to produce higher and higher levels of insulin to pull your blood sugar levels back down. You probably are unable burn all the sugar you eat. Inevitably, your body stores it as fat, creating insulin resistance and overall metabolic havoc along with other health concerns.
2. Saturated fat is not your enemy.
A review of all the research on saturated fat published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no correlation between saturated fat and heart disease. As with all foods in general and fats specifically, quality is what matters. The fats in a fast-food bacon cheeseburger will produce an entirely different reaction than the saturated fat in coconut oil. Time to stop classifying all saturated fat as the same.
3. Your brain is about 60% fat.
Of that percentage, the biggest portion comes from the omega-3 fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Your brain needs DHA to ignite communication between cells. Easy access to high-quality fat boosts cognition, happiness, learning, and memory. In contrast, studies link a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Everyone benefits from more omega 3s. most of us are deficient in these critical fats. Ideal ways to get them include eating wild or sustainably raised cold-water fish (at least two servings weekly), buying omega-3 rich eggs, and taking an omega-3 supplement twice a day with breakfast and dinner that contains 500 – 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fats (a ratio of roughly 300 EPA to 200 DHA is ideal).
4. Some fats are unhealthy.
This includes trans-fats and inflammatory vegetable oils. Unfortunately, these fats have increased in our diet. They contribute to inflammation, which plays a role in nearly every chronic disease on the planet and are the fats responsible for weight gain.
5. Eating fat can make you lean.
Healthy cell walls made from high-quality fats are better able to metabolize insulin, which keeps blood sugar better regulated. Without proper blood sugar control, the body stores fat rather than burning it. The right fats also increase fat burning, cut your hunger, and reduce fat storage. Eating the right fats makes you lose weight, while eating excess sugar and the ‘bad’ types of fat make you fat.
6. Fat is more complex than sugar.
There are over 250 different names for sugar, but despite numerous very minor variations, they all create the same damage. Sugar is sugar is sugar. No matter what you call it, it wreaks havoc on your health. Fat is more complex. We have saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and even trans-fats, along subcategories within each group. Some fats are good; others neutral; and some are downright nasty.
7. Low-fat diets tend to be heart-unhealthy, high-sugar diets.
When people eat less fat, they tend to eat more starch or sugar instead, and this has been shown to increase the levels of the small, dense cholesterol that causes heart attacks. In fact, studies have shown that up to 75 percent of people who end up in the emergency room with a heart attack have normal overall cholesterol levels but present with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
8. Good fats can heal.
Your body gives you signs whether or not you are getting enough quality fat. The higher-quality the fat, the better your body will function. Your body uses the fat you eat to build cell walls. Every cell in your body requires high-quality fat to function optimally.
How do you know if your cells are getting the fats they need? Your body sends signals when it is not receiving sufficient amounts of good, health-promoting fats. Warning signs include:
· Dry, itchy, scaling, or flaking skin
· Soft, cracked, or brittle nails
· Hard earwax
· Tiny bumps on the backs of your arms or torso
· Achy, stiff joints
· Dry, brittle hair
Some of my favorite sources of fat include:
· Extra virgin coconut oil, which is a great plant-based source of saturated fat that has many benefits. It fuels your mitochondria, is anti-inflammatory, and, contrary to conventional wisdom, does not cause problems with your cholesterol - it may actually support resolving them.
· Nuts—walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, but not peanuts which are a legume.
· Seeds—pumpkin, sesame, chia, hemp
· Fatty fish, including sardines, mackerel, herring, and wild salmon that are rich in omega-3 fats
· Extra virgin olive oil
· Grass-fed or sustainably raised animal products.
· Omega-3 or pastures eggs. PLEASE eat those wonderful yolks.
Eat fat with every meal. The right fats can improve your mood, skin, hair, and nails, while protecting you against Type 2 diabetes, dementia, cancer, and much more.