Dietary fat has gotten a bad rap over the past decades. Low fat diets became all the rage as we watched households replace their butter and eggs with processed, reduced-fat “food” products. We became obsessed with making sure we limited out amount of dietary fat intake as much as we could to ensure reduced body fatness, lower “bad” cholesterol markers, and reduce our risk of heart disease.
We became scared to the core to ever eat bacon and eggs again… or enjoy a satisfying filet mignon. Thankfully, I’m here to tell you that the fat phobia is on the decline. Fat is making a comeback! And rightfully so. Scientific literature has shown that total dietary fat intake has no correlation whatsoever to cardiovascular disease. As for cholesterol, a survey of South Carolina adults found no correlation of blood cholesterol levels with “bad” dietary habits, such as use of red meat, animal fats, butter, eggs, whole milk, bacon, sausage and cheese.
One study at a time, the truth is coming to light. It’s not saturated fat that’s causing inflammation and leading to disease states such as coronary heart disease. It’s all the processed, low-fat yogurts, cookies, cakes, cereals laden with refined sugar and rancid vegetable oils that have inundated our food supply and become the bulk of our daily nutrition. The daily consumption of these faux foods and the increase in our chronic disease state go hand in hand… and that’s definitely not fake news.
Now that we know fats are not the enemy, let’s explore the benefits of these health-supporting nutrients, make it clear as to which fats are best for us, and learn how to incorporate them into our daily nutrition.
Why do I need healthy fats on a daily basis?
Let me start with a knowledge bomb. Your heart runs on fat! Yeap… you heard me correctly. Our heart prefers to run on fatty acids. Therefore, high quality fats in the diet play a large role in one’s heart health. This is pretty huge since cardiovascular disease accounts for nearly 40% of deaths in Americans per year.
So many Americans have been following a low-fat diet that we have caused ourselves to become essential fatty acid deficient (inherently causing inflammation). This is no bueno, foodies. We need consume healthy fats daily to support optimal immunity, cell-to-cell communication, mood and brain health, combat inflammation (such as joint pain, arthritis, asthma, IBD, etc.), create hormones, and so much more. Here’s another knowledge bomb for ya: fats are what we are comprised of! They are the literal makeup of each and every one of our cells. Which we have a lot of… nearly 90 trillion to be exact!
Healthy Fats vs. Unhealthy Fats
The right fats can help shed body fat, regulate energy levels, increase metabolism, speed up brain performance, balance hormones, and promote glowing skin/hair/nails. Therefore, it’s important to be able to differentiate between fats that are nourishing to our cells and fats that aren’t doing us any good. For example, toxic trans fats, which are typically found in process, packaged foods have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease (which we now know to be an issue of inflammation). On the other hand, properly sourced, high quality, unrefined polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fats control and balance inflammation. It’s important to consume a variety of these appropriately-prepared fats to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits as they work in unison with one another to regulate our natural inflammatory pathways.
Ok. Romaine calm! We know this is a lot to digest. For you to easily reference, we found this catch-all, quick reference guide from our holistic friend, Noelle, over at Coconuts & Kettlebells! Print it out, take it with you grocery shopping, post on your fridge for a reminder when cooking, or share it with a friend who would benefit from this information!
How do I incorporate these newfound fats into my diet?
When it comes to adding fat to your meals, start off slow. More is not always better in this case. If you’ve been eating a lower fat diet for any prolonged period of time, gallbladder function might be sluggish. This makes it difficult for the body to adequately emulsify and absorb fat. A large amount of fat at once can be a recipe for headaches, nausea, diarrhea, bloating, and other digestive upset.
Some of the easiest fatty additions to make to your meals include avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, raw nuts and seeds, and pasture-raised eggs! Include them as part of an overall well-balanced, nutritious diet to achieve the best results.
At Eat the 80, our menu is created by a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who takes great care in optimizing the overall nutritional profile of every meal. Our NTP-approved recipes strive to be balanced with a wide variety of healthful fats, sustainably sourced proteins, and nutrient-dense carbohydrates. Some of the dietary fats we currently offer in our meals are fresh avocado, extra virgin olive oil, coconut milk, raw nuts, and sesame oil. Click here to check out what’s currently on our menu & get more nourishing fats into your diet this new year!