In the past, fats were made out to be the bad guy in the wellness world- but luckily those days are gone.
After years of research and understanding more about the nature of fats and how they affect our bodies, we can confidently say that quality matters. It is all about the types of fats you choose to consume regularly rather then limiting your overall intake. With the unique profile that all fats have, we can either experience negative or positive effects on our health depending which ones we include in our diets.
Let’s jump into the basics shall we?
There are three types of macronutrients- carbohydrates, protein, and fat. All of these are energy dense, with fat being the highest. This means we are provided with the most energy per gram when we consume fat!
With fats being such a strong contender in our nutrient list, they greatly contribute to our hormone health, satiety levels, and cognitive function. I’m always talking about the connection between fats and our brain health with my clients- 60% of our brain is made from fat, after all.
Without fats, we also would have a very hard time absorbing certain vitamins from foods that we eat. So as you can see, consuming good quality fats should be an unforgotten step in our daily wellness regime.
Well, which fats should you be consuming?
Fats fall into two categories.
- Saturated Fats–Less nutritious
- Unsaturated Fats–More nutritious
Saturated fats are less nutritious because consuming large quantities of foods that contain this nutrient have been linked to higher risk of heart disease and stroke due to a rise in LDL cholesterol.
Trans fats are another type of saturated fat and have been shown to not only increase LDL (bad) cholesterol, but possibly decrease HDL (good) cholesterol.
Heart complications are no joke. Heart disease is the leading killer in the United States, so it’s a good idea to proceed with knowledge.
Foods that contain saturated fat are,
- Animal products
- Full-fat dairy products
- Cured meats
- Coconut Oil
- Pastries/baked goods
There is no need to drive yourself crazy avoiding saturated fats 100% of the time, but avoiding them as much as possible has been shown to reduce risk of chronic illness and disease later in life.
Unsaturated Fats include both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Both of these types of fats have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol- protecting against heart disease and stroke.
You can find monounsaturated fats in,
- Nuts & Seeds (includes nut butters)
- Olive & peanut oil
Polyunsaturated fats contain all the essential fatty acids so it is a good idea to include these as much as possible. They have omega 3, 6 and 9.
You can find polyunsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids in,
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Fatty fish (like salmon)
When including enough of these omegas into your lifestyle, studies show that inflammation reduces, mood improves, anxiety and depression rates are reduced and the risk for Alzheimers and dementia is also reduced. You just cannot beat the benefits.
How you can start including nutritious fats:
- Hemp seeds go great on a salad or in oatmeal
- Chia seeds pair well with yogurt or in a smoothie
- Ground flaxseeds are lovely in a smoothie or muffins
- Pairing avocado with your toast instead of butter
Rather than trying to constantly restrict yourself, simply begin including nutritious fats into your current lifestyle for a step in the right direction! It is never too late to start.