If you’ve been around for at least 20 years, chances are you’ve tried a fat free diet in the past. I remember in high school I decided to try the fat free fad with all my friends. I guarantee you that we were the hungriest people in the cafeteria! I would pack fat free lunch meats, fat free chips, and fat free cookies in my lunch bag. It was like a bag filled with air. I remember the food didn’t have much taste to it, and it was actually full of sugar and carbohydrates to compensate for the lack of fat. Fat in food brings satisfaction to our bodies, and when there is no fat, ingredients like sugar, salt, and added carbs have to be added in order to make it taste good.
Needless to say, I didn’t stay on that diet too long. I was too hungry! Fat is one of the 3 macronutrients our bodies need (the others being proteins and carbohydrates). We need fat for our bodies to function at their best. Fats help to balance hormones, feed our brains, and (get this!) burn fat. Yes, we need fat to burn fat. For years, the general consensus was that fat is bad for you – any fat. But as they continued to study and do more research, they discovered that not only is fat not bad, it’s actually really good for us. The key, they discovered, was in consuming the right kinds of fats – the healthy kinds. These include:
Monounsaturated fats – from foods like avacados, olives and olive oil, nuts and seeds
Omega 3 fats– from foods like flax and chia seeds and fatty fish like salmon. Omega 3 fats are a type of polyunsaturated fat, and Americans don’t consume nearly enough of this type of fat. Omega 3 supplements are one of the foundational supplements that I recommend everyone take to ensure you are getting these essential fats.
Saturated fats– from animal sources, preferably organic (meats, eggs, full-fat dairy) and coconut oil. There has been much debate over the years about saturated fat, but more and more studies show that it is a healthy fat that the body uses to stabilize blood sugar and balance hormones. One of the healthiest sources of saturated fat is found in coconut oil. I consider coconut oil a superfood, and scientists are just beginning to discover all the wonderful health benefits that come from this wonderful food God created. Need more proof? Check out this article on coconut oil and all its many health benefits.
These 3 types of fats are the healthiest, because they provide the body with necessary nutrients. Most importantly, they help to stabilize blood sugar, which really should be the goal of any food we eat. Healthy fats keep our insulin levels from spiking, which is what happens when we eat high carbohydrate, sugary foods. Balanced blood sugar will help with cravings, weight gain, and unstable moods. And fats play an essential role in this process.
The two other types of fat that should be used in moderation or avoided altogether are:
Omega 6 Fats– from vegetable oils. These are another type of polyunsaturated fat, and they are found in things like canola oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil. While we need omega 6 fats in our diets, Americans consume far too many omega 6 fats and not nearly enough omega 3 fats (which help keep omega 6 fats balanced). Omega 6 fats are found in all kinds of chips, crackers, and other grocery items. Again, it’s best to try to limit these fats and focus more on the fats mentioned above, because an imbalance of too many omega 6 fats can cause health problems.
Trans Fats– these are the fats you will want to stay away from altogether. These are listed in ingredients as partially hydrogenated soybean, cottonseed, or any other kind of oil. If you see the words “partially hydrogenated” listed in the ingredients, run! Your body does not recognize these fats as something it can use, so they get stored as fat, which then becomes toxic in the body. Healthy fats come from foods that God created. Unhealthy, toxic fats come from foods that man created. And studies show that these toxic trans fats are linked to all sorts of health problems, including heart disease and cancer. Again, these unhealthy fats are best avoided along with the foods that contain them.
To learn more about the importance of healthy fats, check out these articles:
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