Are you Eating the Right Types of Fats?
Many patients are afraid to incorporate fats into their diet, believing that eating fat will make them fat. They eat a lot of chicken breast, steamed veggies, low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, and salads with fat-free dressing. It's not their fault. They have been taught for years by the media that eating fat is going to make them fat, BUT this is simply not true!
Are You Eating Enough Fat? Are You Eating the Right Fats? It is a topic that can get very confusing, very quickly. Eating the right fats will make a HUGE impact on inflammation within your body. Eating fats is incredibly important, but eating the RIGHT fats is the key!
We need HEALTHY fat
There are several essential fatty acids that our bodies cannot make, and if we don’t consume them it may show up as inflammation, fatigue, poor memory function, heart issues, depression, dry skin, as well as other unpleasant symptoms.
Our bodies also NEED fat to
produce HORMONES. This is especially important for my fertility, pregnant, and postpartum patients!
EVERY cell in our body contains fat. Healthy fats help us feel full, stabilize blood sugar, and maintain energy.
Eating a healthy fat (like olive oil) with your salad or veggies will actually allow your body to absorb more of the nutrients from the vegetables.
Healthy Fats vs. Unhealthy Fats
There is a BIG difference between good, natural, unprocessed, unrefined sources of fat and highly processed, refined fats.
The healthy fats should be incorporated into your diet every day. In some cases it can be beneficial for these fats to make up well over HALF of the calories that a person consumes.
The processed and refined fats on the other hand, are considered “junk calories”. These unhealthy fats can be oxidized, or rancid, and are unrecognizable to our bodies. They contribute to inflammation which leads to all sorts of health problems.
These foods contain GOOD Fats. Enjoy eating these frequently without guilt!
- Butter (I especially love Kerrygold)
- Plain Yogurt (Full fat)
- Avocado Oil
- Coconut oil
- Olive Oil
- Fish (salmon, herring, anchovies, and sardines)
- Grass Fed Beef
- Dark meat from free range poultry
- Fats from animals (lard, beef tallow, duck fat, etc.)
- Eggs (especially from pastured chickens)
*It is important that the meat you eat comes from animals that were healthy and got to eat their natural diets while they were alive.
I have cleared my home of unhealthy fats and recommend that you do this as well! Unhealthy fats often hide in processed foods such as chips, crackers, and baked goods. Some of these contain trans fats, some are too high in omega 6 fatty acids, and they are all highly processed and refined. When people eat trans fatty acids, they are deposited in varying amounts in tissues of the body, and impact the way the body functions. Trans fats are man made and are no longer classified at GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA. They should be completely eliminated from the diet. They are commonly found in fried foods, doughnuts, baked goods, pie crusts, biscuits, frozen pizza, cookies, crackers, margarine, and other “butterlike” spreads.
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Canola oil
- Corn oil
- Vegetable oil
- Peanut Oil
- Wheatgerm oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Rice Bran Oil
- Anything hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated
We must get Omega 3 and Omega 6 from our diet, because our bodies cannot create them on it’s own. Having a proper ratio of these essential fatty acids in our diet is extremely important. An ideal ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6s is between 1:1 and 1:2. The Standard American Diet, however, will leave most people getting an Omega 3:6 ratio between 1:20 and 1:50! With that in mind, most of us would benefit from increasing our intake of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. These have anti-inflammatory properties, while having too many Omega 6 fatty acids fuels our bodies' inflammatory pathways.
While it is ideal to get Omega 3 fats from the foods you eat, supplementation is also an option. If you are not eating foods high in Omega 3 essential fatty acids, feel free to talk with me about getting a good quality fish oil.
This article has a great short video explaining the high amounts of omega 6 found in vegetable oil, canola oil, and more of the “unhealthy” oils listed above.
- Eat mostly whole and unprocessed foods (plants, animals, etc.).
- Limit meals at restaurants, as they typically use unhealthy oils. (If you do have to eat out often, choose a salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing.)
- Read labels carefully (many healthy looking oils are mixed with “blends” of other oils).
- Make your own salad dressing. It’s easy to do! (If you need some ideas, just ask. I’ll send you some recipes that I love.)
- Buy oils in a dark glass bottle to keep them from oxidizing. (When oil is stored in clear plastic bottles it will easily oxidize and become rancid.)
But What About Cholesterol?
Do you still need more convincing that eating more healthy fats is okay for your cholesterol and heart? Check out the following article. It goes into all of the nitty gritty reasons that the healthy fats and cholesterol in diets are NOT to blame for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or other related health conditions. A Functional Perspective on Diet and Cholesterol.
What Simple Changes Are Right For You?
If you are someone who feels guilty about eating fats, consider adding some healthy fats to your diet. Enjoy butter, avocado, olive oil, and more from the “healthy” list above! If you still have some of the “unhealthy” fats listed, please consider switching these out with some of the healthier fats. Little changes, done consistently, can set you on a path to better health!
Let me know if you have questions. If you are interested in learning even more about nutrition, I’d be happy to send you information about our “Nutrition Bootcamp.”
Mark Hyman, MD. Eat Fat, Get Thin. Little, Brown and Company, 2016.
Mary Enig, PhD. Know Your Fats. Bethesda Press, 2013.