That’s right folks. They fooled us good! Up and coming research has debunked a long held misconception about fat: that it makes you fat and unhealthy.
A long, long time ago a bunch of scientists and well meaning (really?) doctors decided to make fat the enemy in our modern world. We see and hear this all the time. People avoid fat in an effort to ward off extra weight and to finally be thin. Fat is even the enemy in heart disease. As we all know, the current prescription for heart disease is to reduce fat intake and to increase whole grain consumption. This advice seems healthy. Right? Wrong!
Fat, we need it!
The human body needs fat. For starters our brain is 60% fat, our cells are encased in a phosophoLIPID bilayer (essentially a double fat membrane) and leptin, the hormone that tells us we are satiated, responds to fat consumption (ever wonder why when you deprive yourself on that carb only diet you always feel hungry?).
Fat is amazing and good for you too. That’s right it is GOOD for you. But before you run out and eat every deep fried goodie you can get your hands on be aware; our bodies need GOOD fats. Here are some tips:
1. Good fats reduce inflammation:
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are a type of fat needed by the body as it cannot make it on its own. Omega-3 is the branch term for these fats. They are found in walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, dark leafy green vegetables, spirulina, chlorella and fish. These fats help to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflamation can range from acne, eczema, arthritis, diabetes to heart disease.
Omega-3 fats combat inflammation in the body. I have written about the benefits of omega-3 fats here. Overconsumption of omega-6 fats can lead to poor conversion of omega-3 fats in the body. We are ridiculously undernourished with these good fats our modern food world.
So what causes inflammation in the body? Short answer is insulin spikes caused by sugar (refined sugar and grains). More on that coming soon!
2. Unprocessed natural fats are good. Rancid fats are toxic in the body.
Eating fats in their natural state makes them the most beneficial. It’s no wonder that we are being told more and more to NOT cook with olive oil. While olive oil is a heart healthy oil it becomes rancid (read not good for you) at higher temperatures. Why is this? Well heating olive oil changes the fat at a molecular level into a form that is harmful in the body. Your best bet is to cook with organic coconut oil (extra virgin is my fav!), organic ghee or even organic butter. These fats are more heat stable and have a higher smoke point (the point at which the fat literally smokes and molecular changes occur). Heating fat beyond its smoke point can create trans-fat which is BAD fat.
Eating fats in their natural forms makes them more digestible. For example, when you roast nuts you destroy the natural enzymes found in the nut. It is said that heating any food over 40*C destroys the enzymes found in that food. How does this affect digestion? Well, raw foods contain the enzymes that are required to digest them. For instance, avocadoes contain lipase, an enzyme that breaks down the fat in the avocado, making it easier to digest.
Reducing your intake of fat significantly reduces the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A,D,E and K. Last I heard these vitamins (which are also antioxidants) were vital to our health. So eat your tomatoes with some cold pressed olive oil or avocadoes. This will make the beta carotene (precursor to Vitamin A) and lycopene more absorbable and your skin healthier too!
So don’t be shy, have that avocado at lunch. I know I do. Ok I have 1 and another half avocado because it’s nutrient dense and more importantly so yummy! YAY for fat 🙂