You’ve probably been afraid to eat it most of your life because it will make you fat and give you heart disease, right!? WELL…. That’s not entirely accurate.
Fat is an essential nutrient. That means that you CANNOT live without it. The human body cannot make fatty acids on its own, so taking in dietary fat from a variety of sources must happen each day. Fat is an energy source for the body during low intensity endeavors and it is a crucial element for many important physiological processes.
So that low fat diet we talked about above… you can cut that out right now! Your body will thank you for it!
Not only is fat an energy source for the body, it also has a number of other important roles within the body.
?the main building block of hormones- testosterone, estrogen, progesterone
?formation of cell membranes
?support for the nervous system
?transportation and absorption of Vitamins A, D, E and K
?immune system function
If you are not taking in an adequate amount of dietary fat each day your body will not be optimally performing all of the above functions…and that’s pretty serious. You’ll get sick more often, you hair and skin will be dry and brittle, you may experience overactive nerves or nerve pain and you may not be able to build muscle or burn fat effectively. And can we talk about the fact that your sex drive might be in the toilet!?
There are three main types of fats and ALL of them are required for overall health, just not all in the same amounts.
Saturated fat is the fat found mostly in animal products, but also in coconut. Insufficient saturated fat intake will decrease white blood cell’s ability to recognize and destroy viruses, bacteria, and fungi. So that whole nonsense about saturated fats being bad and you shouldn’t eat them just means you’ll be more susceptible to viruses, bacteria and fungal infections!
Monounsaturated fats (MUFA’s) are our “anti-inflammatory” fats. They have been shown to
?reduce risk of heart disease
? improve insulin sensitivity
? strengthen bones by assisting in calcium absorption
? improve your mood
?reduce risk of cancer
Avocado, olive oil, almonds, macadamia nuts, egg yolks, and sunflower oil are all good sources of MUFA’s.
Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA’s) are our double edged sword fats. On the one side we have the Omega 3 Fatty Acids which, like the monounsaturated fats, have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. On the other side there are the Omega 6 Fatty Acid which have inflammatory effects and have been shown to cause blood clotting and an increase in pain. Now this isn’t to say they aren’t beneficial. Omega 6’s are necessary for brain function, muscle growth, and hormone production, but the Standard American Diet has been shown to have a 20:1 or higher ratio of Omega 6 intake to Omega 3 intake which means most Americans are eating far too many pro inflammatory fats and not nearly enough anti-inflammatory fats each day.
Great sources of Omega 3’s include sardines, algae oils, wild salmon, krill oil, walnuts and flaxseeds and the best sources of Omega 6’s include hemp seeds, grapeseed oil, pumpkin seeds, pistachios and raw sunflower seeds. The Omega 6’s you want to stay away from are the trans fats!
WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN???
So now that we’ve got some science out of the way… I want to ask you a few questions.
Do you want beautiful skin free from dryness, eczema, rosacea and acne?
Eat more fat!
Do you want shiny hair and a scalp free from dryness?
Eat more fat!
Do you want a healthy and vibrant sex drive?
Eat more fat!
A healthy diet should include healthy fats and the fats you take in need to be from a variety of all sources of fat because each play a different and important role in the body.
So let’s break down a day of healthy fat consumption. This is merely an example to show you how you can achieve balance of fat intake throughout your day. The combinations, though, are truly endless, so always go for variety and change it up every day.
For breakfast you could have a combination of whole eggs and egg whites cooked in avocado oil, then for lunch you could have a turkey breast with some pecans, then for dinner you could drizzle your salad in some olive oil and top it off with some macadamia nuts. For a snack throughout the day maybe a smoothie with some ground flax seeds and chia seeds in it or some almond butter on top of an apple or some celery.
The overall goal is to create balance in your day and balance in your life where you are not only taking in an appropriate amount of dietary fat, but also those fats are evenly distributed between the various kinds of fatty acids.