In many parts of the world, healthy fats have always been welcome to the table. Traveling through Europe, every meal I ate was topped with either butter or oil.
Unfortunately, for a long time in the United States, these healthy fats were shunned. Even worse, when our country went "fat-free" they were replaced with sugar. The result was a rapid increase in our countries rates of diabetes and obesity.
The newest research indicates all the worry about fat causing heart disease and making us fat isn’t the whole story. See, fat is absolutely necessary for brain function and hormone production and cutting it out can cause a load of new problems. Our bodies need fat- more specifically they need healthy fats.
Like most things in life, all fats are not created equal. So how do we sort out which fats we need to add back to our dinner plates to improve our health and vitality?
These are the top healthy fats 5 that I incorporate into meals and snacks for my family each day:
1. Nuts and Seeds
Almost every type of nut packs a nutritional punch with unsaturated fats that are good for your heart. Additional benefits include fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium. But, my favorite thing about nuts is that as a snack they make you feel full and satisfied by helping control blood sugar. Seeds such as flax, hemp, pumpkin, and sunflower give you these benefits as well.
The amazing avocado contains healthy monosaturated fats that help the body burn food for fuel more efficiently. In this way, it protects again metabolic disease such as diabetes. Additionally, they contain vitamin E, folate, fiber, and potassium. I also use avocado oil, as it adds a rich buttery taste when roasting or sautéing.
3. Coconut Products
Coconut oil is rich in medium chain fatty acids that can be used for immediate energy and not likely to be stored in your body as fat. Although they are an often controversial saturated fat, recent studies indicate these fatty acids can increase good cholesterol and promote heart health. Avoid refined and processed coconut products because the refining process eliminates many of the benefits.
4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olives and their oils actually are known to improve cardiovascular health by reducing the risk of heart attack and dying of heart disease. The type of fat is called monosaturated and also helps improve memory, brain function, and is anti-inflammatory. Buying “extra virgin” products are important to getting these the most health benefits.
5. Omega 3 Rich Fish
The omega 3 fatty acids found in seafood such as salmon and sardines are essential because the body isn’t capable of producing them on its own. The Omega 3’s found in seafood are preferred because they contain DHA and EPA forms, not just the ALA found in plant foods and grass-fed beef. If you aren’t a fish fan, a good quality Omega 3 supplement can fill in the nutritional gap.
Pick from this list every day and you will start to see some side effects . . . Shiny hair, healthy nails, maybe even fewer wrinkles and weight loss.
If you are interested in all the amazing benefits of healthy fats and how to balance them in your diet, inquire about our next Free Balanced Nutrition Workshop. We specifically discuss how to balance protein, carbohydrates, and fats in a way that is easy to implement and individualized to your health and body composition goals.
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