Eating fat makes you fat. This is a belief that America has been brainwashed by for years. I’m here to shed some light and tell you it’s not true! Of course there are different types of fat, and they all serve a different purpose. I’m here to discuss the good fats. I’ve been learning lots about fat through IIN, podcasts, and books and all my research seems to say the same thing: Fat (lipid) is essential to your diet. It is necessary for brain development and function (our brains are made of 60% fat!), cell development and growth, it acts as a cushion and insulator to internal organs, and plays a role in hormone synthesis. An intake of fat with every meal helps you digest food and absorb nutrients and fat-soluble vitamins DAKE (an easy acronym to remember vitamins D, A, K, & E!) IIN states: “the quality and type of fat we’re eating plays a big role in our health and by avoiding it we are doing ourselves a disservice.” In addition, fat increases satiety. I’ve noticed that in adding fat to my smoothies or my plate (i.e. avocado, coconut oil, peanut butter, etc.) I’m left feeling fuller longer. It curbs cravings. Fat also regulates temperature, moods, and makes you feel calmer and more relaxed. Give me all the fat, please!
Avocado toast at LouLou’s Cafe in Paris, France
For so many years I was guilty of purchasing items with low-fat, non-fat, skim, diet, zero calorie, etc. on the label. I’m sure you can relate. I was under the impression that these products were lower in calories and fat, so obviously better for me in terms of maintaining my weight. I’ve since learned what is really going on behind the scenes. You see, when something is stripped of its natural ingredients, something else – usually in the form of sugar and/or a genetically modified ingredient takes its place. Next time you’re at the store look at something that says “non” or “low” fat (or maybe you have items in your fridge or pantry already!) Check the label. I guarantee the sugar content will be extremely high (or higher than anything else). It’s crazy because sugar is nearly in everything which of course forces me to reemphasize the fact that home-cooked, whole foods are best, but I digress. Let’s get back to fat!
Duck dumplings at L.Brik Cafe in St. Petersburg, Russia
So if fat is good for you that means you can continue eating cookies, chips, crackers, and pizza, right? WRONG. Remember there are good fats and then there are trans fats. Trans fats are a fat that has been changed by a process called hydrogenation. This process increases shelf life. So those boxes in the middle of the grocery store, processed baked goods, frozen and fried foods… you guessed it! Full of this sneaky fat. That’s why (as a reminder) it’s important to shop the perimeter of the store. Trans fats can raise your cholesterol, promote inflammation, and increase your risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease, just to name a few! According to IIN, food companies have until 2018 to remove trans fats from their products. When shopping you should also look for words “partially hydrogenated” as this means trans fats are present. Not all countries treat fat like we do here in the U.S. “In Europe, food companies hired chemists and took trans fats out. In the U.S. they hired lawyers and public relations people to counter the bad evidence against trans fat.” Europe is on to something. I was just there in fact, and am always fascinated by the European lifestyle. For one, their portions are half the size of what we see in America. And in terms of fat? Well, they eat it. They eat the real kind of fat. They eat their meats and cheeses and whole milk and olive oil. Processed food isn’t a thing there. Food isn’t packaged, but rather on the street or within one of the many cafes along your walk. These pictures don’t do their farmers’ markets any justice. The first picture was taken in St. Petersburg, Russia and the second was in Helsinki, Finland (I know, it’s veggies, not sources of fat!)
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are mostly found in animal products such as meat, milk, and cheese. About a month ago many news articles went viral claiming that coconut oil was bad for you because it’s a saturated fat. While it is indeed saturated, there are many benefits to coconut oil. It’s a great source of lauric acid and has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and even cholesterol-lowering properties. I do use it. I put it in smoothies and baked goods. I use it as hair masks, and as moisturizer. But like anything else, I use it in moderation.
Vigan, Philippines (February 2017)
Unsaturated fats come in the form of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) can be found in avocados, nuts, seeds, olive and peanut oils. They help reduce the risk of chronic disease and support longevity. They are heart healthy and support good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL). Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) are full of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3s help reduce inflammation, support heart health, reduce symptoms of depression and reduce cancer risk. Western diets tend to be high in omega-6 fatty acids and lack omega-3, which has been shown to promote inflammation. So your Omega-3 intake should be higher than Omega-6. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in: salmon, mackerel, tuna, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, green leafy vegetables, and eggs. Examples of omega-6 fatty acids are seeds, nuts, soy, and vegetable oils.
Salmon in a lemon puree aboard the Serenade of the Seas
Hopefully you now have an understanding of fat’s positive effects on the body. Olive oil, fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds are some of the highest quality fat sources you can include in your diet. Not only are they heart healthy, but may also help support a healthy weight, reduced risk of diabetes, and improved neurological function.
“Beer” platter FULL of fat. What were we thinking?! Found at AlaBar in Riga, Latvia
Food for thought: When making or choosing your next meal, pay attention to the macronutrients on your plate. Today I discussed fat. (The next two blog posts will address protein and carbohydrates. I also think greens should be on every plate!) Are you choosing foods that support a proper balance of macronutrients which then support your blood sugar levels? If your macronutrients are out of balance, you could be riding the blood sugar rollercoaster. I’ll discuss this further in upcoming posts! Until then, eat your fat (the right kind) and make it your friend!
Yes, I put avocado in my smoothies. It makes them thicker and creamier! And hello, fat and nutrients!
- 1 scoop FurtherFood Collagen peptides (optional) – if you’d like a discount use my code KLEAN10 at checkout!
- 1 scoop Tone it Up Nutrition vanilla protein powder
- 1/4 avocado
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 large handful of spinach
- 2 cups unsweetened coconut aloe water
- Handful of ice
- Topped with shredded coconut, bee pollen, and chia seeds