Good fats or “healthy fats” as they’re sometimes called, are getting a lot of press these days. For years we were told that low-fat and non-fat were the ways to a smaller waistline. Now, FAT is all the rage. The nutritional world can be a confusing place, one that is constantly changing, and one that tends to fall prey to certain trends and profitable diet plans. If you are somebody who is genuinely looking to lose weight and feel great, it can be nothing short of exasperating. So, if you’re looking for a good solid nutrition tip, this is one to stick in the pocket of your skinny jeans: GOOD FATS are definitely GOOD for you. Let me explain.
Why Fat Got a Bad Rap
In the 1960s, the American Heart Association recommended that people cut down on their fat intake. This was after years of research linking heart disease to saturated fats. In the mid 70s, food guidelines suggested eating less saturated fats and more carbohydrates. These recommendations meant to suggest eating more carbs in the way of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. However, most Americans took it that ANY carbohydrate was better than fat. And, of course, the food industry followed–or attacked, you could say. Grocery stores became lined with high-carbohydrate and low-fat foods that were filled with sugar to make up for the taste. And….while fat was still positioned as the biggest villain in our foods, sugar addiction and an obesity epidemic was born.
The problem with all of the studies that were done before the AHA recommendation was that there was no actual evidence that saturated fats caused heart disease. Research also showed that low-fat diets also did not even contribute to weight loss. Fortunately, more studies were being done, and more and more research began to show that diets rich in GOOD fats not only contributed to more weight loss but also drastically reduced cholesterol levels.
The Skinny on Fat
Cut to today. In August (2017) a huge, 18 country study on over 135,000 people over seven years found that individuals with a high-intake diet had a lower risk of early death. Not only was fat being associated with heart health and lower weight, but it was actually preventing you from dying: “High carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fat were related to lower total mortality. Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction (heart attack), or cardiovascular disease mortality,” the study read.
So, here we are in the land of good, healthy, lip-smacking delicious FAT. The caveat of course is that no fat is created equal. The best good fats are full of heart-healthy polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids (ALA, DHA, and EPA), monounsaturated fats (OEA), and the trans fat conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), as well as some medium-chain saturated fats like stearic acid and lauric acid. I could write an entire article explaining each one of these good fats. But, don’t worry, I won’t. Instead, I will list five surprising foods that are filled with good, healthy fats.
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5 Surprising Foods that Contain Good Fats:
I bet you thought I was going straight to salmon. 😉 Nope. While Salmon is a fantastic way of eating good fats, red meat provides us with good fats like conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA and stearic acid. CLA is a trans fat that improves heart health and reduces belly fat! Stearic Acid is a saturated fat that actually reduces LDL cholesterol. Grass-fed beef is even healthier because of the way the cows are grown and fed. Grass-fed beef is naturally leaner and has fewer calories than conventional meat.
Ghee (or clarified butter) is another one of my favorite ways to eat healthy fats. Ghee is butter without lactose and contains about 62% saturated fat. It has been used for thousands of years, and is known as an “ancient health food.” Because of its high smoke point (the temperature at which you can cook something without it becoming toxic) makes it a favorite at my house when cooking at high-temperatures. In addition to its healthy fat content, it is loaded with vitamins A, D, E, and K2. It is known to improve digestion and reverse inflammation.
Ok, fine…this one is not that surprising, but it is a favorite and should always be included in a list of good fats! Yes, Avocados are EVERYWHERE. They’re on toast, they’re in smoothies, they’re in guacamole….and they should be. 77% percent of the calories in an avocado comes from fat…the good kind. Avocados are very rich in monounsaturated fats, which raises good cholesterol and lowers the bad! They’re also packed with protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals, such as: calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamin C, B6, B-12, A, D, K, E, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin.
Like Ghee above, Flax seeds have been consumed as food for thousands of years. They are a well known, historical SUPERFOOD. We hear a lot about the health benefits of salmon, fish oil, and omega-3 fats. Unlike fish oil that contains EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fats that are critical for optimal health, Flax Seeds contain ALA, another type of omega-3 fat that comes from this vegetarian/vegan source. Flax seeds are excellent for your skin, hair, and digestive system (they contain a lot of fiber!). They even help to balance your hormones. Sprinkle them on salads, blend in smoothies, and sneak them into fiber-rich baked goods.
This is probably the most surprising good fat on the list, as most people are unaware that a a single-cell, microscopic blue-green algae could contain fat. It does. And, once again, it’s the good kind. Spirulina is full of healthy omega-3s like EPA and DHA that control inflammation and belly fat. It is considered a “superfood” because of its vast array of nutrients, including protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins B, C, E and chlorophyll. It can be sprinkled in smoothies for a beautiful, earthy green energy boost. Or, for the faint of heart, it can be taken as a capsule.
The list above includes five surprising sources of good fats, but there are so many worth mentioning (and eating!). Wild salmon, small fish like anchovies and sardines, coconut (and coconut oil), raw nuts (and nut butters), chia seeds, EGGS are just some of the nutrient and FAT-rich foods that can and should be incorporated into a healthy diet. In addition to increasing good cholesterol, lowering bad cholesterol, and helping shed excess weight, these good fats also contribute to beautiful hair, glowing skin, and healthy nails. There really is no reason NOT to eat these deliciously nutritious fats.
Stay tuned for more nutrition, anti-aging, detox, and hormone balancing tips to come!
-Whitney F. Brown, ARNP at Revitalogy
Call 561-406-2269 to schedule an appointment with me, or leave a comment below!
Whitney F. Brown, ARNP
With deep understanding an experience in hormone therapies, alternative medicine, and aesthetics, nurse practitioner Whitney F. Brown’s provides a patient-focused, holistic, and functional approach to wellness. Her priority is to help her patients feel better on the inside while giving them more confidence about the way they look on the outside. To achieve this, she considers her patient’s entire medical, wellness, and nutritional history with their wants and needs.
Whitney considers nutrition to play a pivotal role in optimal wellness. As a collegiate athlete, she realized years ago that her own vegan diet was negatively affecting her bloodwork values. This inspired her to study nutrition extensively, and allowed her to use her own story to help relate to her patients’ frustration with the overwhelming information about nutrition today. Whitney blends her traditional medical education and experience with proven natural therapies to restore vitality to her patients from the inside out.