I was at a party this past 4th of July and a woman standing next to me pointed out a dessert she had made. With a twinkle in her eye she said "It's fat free and sugar free." I sarcastically thought to myself, yum and then I realized - some people still don't know.
Fat still has a stigma attached to it which evident when shopping for full-fat yogurt. Good luck finding a yogurt that isn’t low-fat or fat-free. This is a shame because full-fat yogurt tastes better and is actually better for you.
Much of this is driven by the major food companies’ vested interest in fat-free options. They don’t want you to know the truth.
Here’s the truth – ever since the low fat craze in the 80s, Americans have gotten fatter and unhealthier.
As it turns out, fat does not make you fat but actually improves body composition, especially when eating a whole food diet.
In fact, our bodies need healthy fat. Completely avoiding it can be detrimental to our health. Fat is very nutrient-dense, it’s the building block of our cells and hormones, and it allows our bodies to absorb more antioxidants and other nutrients from our food. Fat-soluble vitamins like A, D and E need to be eaten with fat in order for your body to synthesize it properly. This is why many multivitamins recommend taking it with a meal.
That means every time you eat a salad with fat-free dressing, you’re not taking full advantage of all the nutrients in the salad! Same goes for green smoothies – if you load it full of fruit and spinach but avoid fat, you’re missing out.
If you juice or supplement with a greens food powder like ēRaw, I recommend you add a healthy fat with it. If you’re blending it, add some avocado. If you’re making it in a shaker, add coconut milk, coconut oil or MCT oil like IGNITE. I’m surprised by how many people just use water and miss out on the opportunity to get all the vital nutrients that need fat for absorption.
Fat also allows for food to digest slower so you stay full longer and it reduces insulin spikes, which can cause health issues over time. If you’re drinking a smoothie, and you’re hungry an hour later, it might be that you’re missing some fat or protein. Plus, fat makes everything taste way better!
Broccoli with butter or broccoli without butter? Hmmmm.
Here are several healthy fats you want to include in your diet.
Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of healthy medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs:
- are easily digested, thus putting less strain on your digestive system. This is especially important for those with digestive or metabolic concerns.
- strengthen and support our immune system
- are sent directly to your liver, where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat.
- in coconut oil can actually help stimulate your body’s metabolism, leading to weight loss.
Avocados, which are actually classified as a fruit, are rich in monounsaturated fat that is easily burned for energy. They also provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients. Previous research has found that avocados can help optimize cholesterol levels within as little as one week; contains compounds that appear to inhibit and destroy oral cancer cells, and those that protect against liver damage.
They’re also very low in fructose and have anti-inflammatory properties. Avocados are one of the safest fruits you can buy conventionally-grown, and most experts do not believe you need to purchase organic ones.
Butter and Ghee
I’m referring to real butter, not margarine and low-fat, low-cholesterol “spreads” since these often contain the unhealthy trans fats that should be avoided.
Butter contains omega-3’s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), beta-carotene Vitamin A, K, D, and E and even antioxidants. CLA stimulates thermogenesis, or the burning of calories by raising body temperature. This is one of the reasons why healthy fats don’t make you fat, and instead may help you burn fat. Butter also contains an anti-inflammatory fatty acid called butyrate. It's a great option for cooking because it's stable enough to resist heat-induced damage.
Butter has even made a recent appearance on the cover of Time magazine where it announced “Eat Butter”.
I recommend butter from grass-fed cows like KerryGold which is higher in the nutrients mentioned above.
Even if you’re intolerant to dairy, you may do well with butter since most of the proteins found in milk that often cause problems have been removed. If butter doesn’t work well with you, try ghee which is clarified butter, with all of the proteins completely removed.
Now, this doesn't mean you can eat all the fat-laden junk food you can imagine. What it does mean is that you don't have to be afraid of enjoying healthy fat. In fact, if you can find some full-fat yogurt, go for it! Just be sure to eat more fruits, vegetables, and properly-raised meats as well.
Fats to Avoid
Avoid all types of fat that contain industrial and polyunsaturated oils. This includes soybean and other seed oils like corn, canola, sunflower, safflower, and grapeseed oil along with shortening, margarine, low-fat, low-cholesterol “spreads” or anything with “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients list.
What are your thoughts on fat? I'd love to hear from you.