Eat more (GOOD) Fat!

By: Christy Nye

Navigating nutrients can be challenging.  Therefore, Woodbury Spine Wellness Center has created a guide to good fats/oils for you:

It seems that at one point certain nutrients are good for you and the next moment they must be avoided!  Fats are now good?

In fact, fats have always been good. Keep in mind I’m talking about good fats (Saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats). We will get to what constitutes as a good fat in a moment.

What got us into trouble when the whole non-fat/low-fat era took place is what was missing in our food.   What was it, you ask?   It was the good fat. When food producers took the good fat out of products, they had to alter it by either adding sugar or salt in order to make up for the lack of flavor that was left once removing the fat. So, our fat consumption went down but our sugar and salt consumption went up. On top of that, fat keeps us full. So, guess what else happened? We started consuming more sugary/salty calories because our satiety (urge to stay hungry) dissipated. Removing the fat from our diets was a decision that led to more sugar; more salt, more eating, and to a huge rise in obesity.

So, let’s get to the BENEFITS of fat. Why is it so good for us?

  1. Fats provide energy

-Gram for gram, fats are the most efficient source of food energy.

  1. Fats build healthy cells

-Fats are a vital part of the membrane that surrounds each cell of the body. Without a healthy cell membrane, the rest of the cell couldn’t function.

  1. Fats build brains

-You need fats because they provide the structural components not only of cell  membranes in the brain, but also of myelin, the fatty insulating sheath that surrounds each nerve fiber, enabling it to carry messages faster.

  1. Fats help the body use vitamins

-Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins, meaning that the fat in foods    helps the intestines absorb these vitamins into the body.

  1. Fats make hormones

-Fats are structural components of some of the most important substances in the body,including prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that regulate many of the body’s functions.

  1. Fat provides healthier skin

-One of the more obvious signs of fatty acid deficiency is dry, flaky skin.

What constitutes a “good” fat?

  • Saturated fats- coconut oil, animal fat, avocado, full-fat dairy

When you eat saturated fats as part of your meal, they slow down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes.

  • Monounsaturated fatsolive oil, halibut, vegetables high in oleic acid, olives, nuts, avocados

Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

  • Polyunsaturated fatssalmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, trout, tuna, nuts, flax seeds

Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. PUFAs may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Tips on Buying, Storing, and Cooking with Fats:

Not all oils/fats are created equal. Always buy organic and unrefined oils.  For dairy or animal-based fats, look for pasture-raised and grass-fed.

1) Butter (unsalted)-stick to the basics. In moderation there is nothing wrong with good old regular butter.

2) 100% extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil- always make sure it says 100% extra virgin, this means it has not been filtered or processed and has all of it’s omega 3 properties.

3) Look for “cold pressed,” “unrefined,” and 100% extra virgin to make sure you’re getting the best quality oils.

4) AVOID- “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated”  in any products or oil.  These are trans-fats.  For example- hydrogenated soybean oil (just because it’s soybeans doesn’t mean it’s healthy)

5) When picking out dairy products, don’t forget the fat. Choose the regular fat with cheese products. Stay away from “non” or “low” fat products.   And of course eat dairy and animal fats in moderation.

6) Heating oils beyond their smoke point — the temperature, at which the oil begins to smoke, generating toxic fumes and harmful free radicals — is never a good idea. Always discard oil that’s reached its smoke point, along with any food with which it had contact. If you are unsure of oil’s smoke point, most labels on bottles of oil will give you the correct temperature.

7) Keep oils in cool dark places unless you are using butter, which you’ll have to refrigerate.

8) Most importantly, avoid trans-fats. Even if the product is labeled trans fat free, look at the ingredient list. If you see the word “hydrogenated” it still has trans-fats in it. Trans-fats raise LDL & lower HDL, which leads to plaque buildup in arteries and increased risk of heart disease.

From your Woodbury Spine Family, have a FAT-tastic day!

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