Not too long ago, the notion of eating something with fat in it was highly criticized. Because fat makes you fat, right? It seems like everyday that theory is being debunked.
Fat’s gotten a bad rap. But I’m not talking about the overabundance of fat on the typical American body. That, honestly, is a bad thing. It has led to a lot of disease. But it by no means makes a person bad, or less valuable, or an inferior human being. How the beauty & fashion industry has pushed that agenda is disheartening. I’m also not talking about the kind of fat found in packaged foods and baked goods. Those fats are also bad, but those are fats that have been processed and manipulated into something less than natural for our bodies to digest.
But there are good fats, and I don’t look at fat as a bad thing anymore. Not when it comes to whole and minimally processed foods. These kinds of fats do incredible things for our bodies, and actually contribute to energy production, weight management, and a healthy brain. These are the healthy fats you should be eating.
Cold Pressed Oils
Why cold pressed? Because it maintains the integrity, taste, and nutritional value of an oil. When heat is used to process oil, hydrogen molecules change the chemical structure, thus creating trans fat. The hydrogenation process came to be because it makes oil more stable, thus giving it a longer shelf life, plus it has a high melting point. But boy, our bodies don’t like it. And even vegetable oils that aren’t hydrogenated can be processed with bad stuff.
Cold pressed Coconut Oil (loaded with MCT’s and antibacterial properties), Extra Virgin Olive Oil (contains polyphenols that fight inflammation), and Avocado Oil (high in antioxidants) are some of the healthiest bets out there. These are some of the fats that make your body the happiest.
That last thing people usually think of when eating fruit is fat. But there are a few fruits out there that have fat in them. And guess what? We just talked about them.
The fat in coconut does a very interesting thing in our body. It’s almost entirely made of medium chain triglycerides, and when these hit our liver, the majority of these fatty acids are converted into ketone bodies to provide us with quick energy. This fat is also satiating (keeps you full longer), and improves cholesterol.
Avocados are a powerhouse of nutrients, plus they are super high in fiber (one medium avocado contains about half your daily intake), and delicious! They are high in potassium, rich in folic acid, and contains glutathione (an important super antioxidant).
And one other fruit, olives! They control blood sugar and lower cholesterol.
Nuts, Seeds, & Legumes
High in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, a controlled portion of nuts and seeds in your diet can help you control your hunger. Nutritional benefits vary from each nut to seed to legume, but they all offer some benefit. From magnesium (good for headaches) to Omega 3’s, plus a lot of protein, nuts and seeds have got it going on.
Almonds are high in vitamin E, and alkalize the body. Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are a great source of zinc (stay away colds!), manganese, magnesium, and vitamin E. Those tiny chia seeds are a superfood. They offer a big nutritional bang for a smaller caloric load. Omega’s, protein, antioxidants, calcium… if you’re going to add any seed to your diet, add this one. You can sprinkle it on everything from oatmeal to salads, or even make chia pudding!
The highest fat legume out there is the peanut, followed distantly by soybeans. I had to include peanut butter in with healthy fats because a) I’m addicted to it and b) it’s such an easy source of protein that packs a nutritional punch and keeps your body satiated for longer periods of time. Fiber, magnesium, B6, and potassium. I think I know what I’m having for breakfast!
Ah, the mighty quinoa. Did you know that quinoa is a complete protein, having all essential amino acids that comprise a protein molecule? It’s got 8 grams total per serving, plus a hefty dose of fiber, iron, magnesium, and folic acid. And with 10 grams of healthy fat, this is a great way to replace some animal protein/fat in your current diet if you’re trying to cut down. And speaking of…
Yes, our bodies do actually benefit from some animal fat (can I get an amen from the Paleo people out there?). There is a caveat though, the best sources come from animals that are raised free-range and grass fed, without hormones or antibiotics. Why? Because vital nutrients come from the grass and bugs that animals naturally graze on. Corn feed does not provide the nutrition for optimal health in an animal. Without grass/greens, animals do not produce vitamin K2, which provides direction in our bodies on where to deposit calcium.
Also, if you want to get your B12 naturally, which is an essential vitamin for our existence, it only occurs naturally in animals. Fortunately for vegans, it can by synthesized, and is now added into many vegan food sources and is available in supplement form.
So do not fear these fats my friends. But do remember that high fat foods, even good ones, are pretty calorie dense, so don’t go shoving half a cup of coconut oil down your throat everyday. Just a smear on toast, or a teaspoon in a pan for cooking, will do you well. A quarter or half of an avocado, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a handful of nuts… you get the picture. ENJOY!