Yes, fat is your friend!
Let's go back to basics. Fat is one of the three macronutrients. It provides 9 calories per gram, a more calorically dense nutrient when compared to carbohydrate and protein which each contain 4 calories per gram. Fat molecules are comprised of fatty acids. It is naturally ocurring in animal products and plants. There are different types of fat: saturated fats, monounsaturated and poly unsaturated. Because fat is energy dense, it helps to keep us full and satisfied for a longer period of time. Fat is important to help absorb nutrients such as vitamin A, D, E and K. So next time your eating a big salad or a plate full of veggies- go for the full fat salad dressing! ( as long as it is coming from a healthy source)
Read below to find out more about the different types of fats and what foods you can find them in!
We have been told for years that saturated fat causes heart disease, raises cholesterol and we should steer clear of it. This topic is very controversial, and there is alot of research articles that explain the link to heart disease may be much less than previously thought (1,2,3,4). Saturated fat is naturally occuring in animal products and some plants such as coconuts. In moderation, these saturated fats may be part of an overall healthy diet. This doesn't mean that saturated fat is a health food and should be consumed in high quantities. However, we do need to consume sat fats. If we consume a variety of plant and animal foods, we are likely getting an adequate intake of saturated fats. No need to completely avoid saturated fats, especially since the foods containing saturated fats usually have many other nutrients as well!
*** Combining high amounts of sugar carbohydrates with higher fat leads to increased inflammation. An example of this would be doughnuts.***
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT)
MCTs are shorter chain fatty acids that bypass part of the digestion process and can be used as energy right away. A popular source of MCT are coconut oil. MCT are saturated fats and are very stable. Caprylic acid, found in coconut oil also has antifungal properties (1).
Saturated fats are stable and do not oxidize (react with oxygen) as easily. They are great for high temperature cooking and are shelf stable. Saturated fats are also less likely to add to oxidative stress in the body (1).
Sources of saturated fat: butter, ghee, fat from animal protein (red meat, poultry,chicken,pork, egg yolks).
Monounsaturated Fats (MUFA):
This type of fat helps raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Olive oil is great for salad dressings. Avocado oil is an excellent oil for cooking due to its high smoke point. These oils are usually cold pressed which is a healthy and easy process. MUFAs are protective in heart health, high in antioxidants and decrease inflammation.
Sources of monounsaturated: avocados, olives (olive oil), tree nuts, plants. Also, naturally found in animals. This means cooking with butter, ghee, and animal fat may have some benefits (3).
Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids fall in this category. Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory while omega 6s are pro-inflammatory. Our bodies need both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. The optimal ratio of consumption of Omega 3 and 6 is 1:1- 1:4.
Omega 3: fatty fish ( salmon, mackeral, tuna, herring, sardines, eggs, flaxseed, walnuts and grassfed meats). DHA and EPA are essential fats ususally found in fish , wild game and grass fed meat. Promote cardiovascular and brain health and reduce inflammation (3).
Omega 6 fats are needed for our body to function. However, as a society we are consuming more than we should and alot more when compared to omega 3 consumption. Omega 6 fatty acids can contribute to many issues in the body when consumed in large amounts or out of proportion from omega 3s. Most of the omega 6s we get in our diet comes from vegetable oils. Some vegetable oils are processed using heat and pressure, which may cause the oils to be unstable and oxidize which can create free radicals in the body, leading to inflammation (1).
Omega 6 Sources : grains, nuts, seeds, factory farm meats, vegetable oil ( corn, soybean, canola, margarine, peanut, palm kernel).
We need both kinds of polyunsaturated fat, which ideally should come from whole food sources such as, fatty fish, grass fed meat + dairy, pasture raised eggs and poultry, and plants such as avocados, olives, walnuts, nuts and seeds (3).
IMPORTANCE OF FATS:
- Fats are a component of the membrane of every cell in our body
- They help absorb fat soluble vitamins in the body
- Contribute to brain health
- Source of efficient energy for our body
- Structural component of hormones
- Contributes to healthier skin
- Fats should not be feared.
-Although they are more calorically dense they have many beneficial properties. The most important thing to remember is the QUALITY of the fat. Food is more than just calories, the quality matters.
- Saturated fat can be part of a healthy diet in moderation
-MUFA are very health promoting. Eat your avocados, and olive oil!
-We need both PUFA, omega 3 and omega 6, however the Standard American Diet contains much more omega 6 oils, (which are inflammatory) compared to omega 3.
- Incorporate more Omega 3s into your diet
- Nuts and seeds are healthy sources of omega 6s.
- Fat is important for many functions in the body
-Fat helps keep us full and satisfied
-Foods that contain fat often have many other health benefits, vitamins, nutrients
EAT MORE OF:
- Fatty Fish
- Avocados + cold pressed avocado oil
-Cold pressed olive oils
- Nuts and seeds (walnuts, chia seed, flax seed, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds + more)
EAT MODERATE AMOUNTS OF:
- Grass fed butter
-Coconut + coconut oil
-grass fed meats
EAT LESS OF:
- highly processed plant oils such as ( soybean, canola, corn, palm kernel,vegetable, margarine, peanut)
-trans fat ( In the process of being phased out of all food products).
- partially hydrogenated oils
The information provided on this website and blog are not to be intended to replace medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.Please consult a medical doctor or other health professional before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition.
1.Ballantyne S. Paleo Principles: the Science behind the Paleo Template, Step-by-Step Guides, Meal Plans, and 200 Healthy & Delicious Recipes for Real Life. Las Vegas, NV: Victory Belt Publishing, Inc.; 2017.
2. Fogelholm M. Faculty of 1000 evaluation for Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. F1000 - Post-publication peer review of the biomedical literature. November 2010. doi:10.3410/f.1947957.1501056.
3.Hyman M. Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? New York: Little, Brown and Company; 2018.
4. Types of Fat. Obesity Prevention Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/. Published June 7, 2018. Accessed July 11, 2018.