While it was quite the trend for the last 50+ years, a low-fat diet is actually not healthy. If you’re eating a low-fat or no-fat diet, your body is actually not able to get all the key nutrients it needs. Your body needs dietary fat to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. Without fat, your body won’t be able to absorb and assimilate those vitamins at all— they’ll simply be excreted. Yikes.
What do healthy fats do for our bodies? What are good fats and bad fats? What to eat when it comes to healthy fats? Let’s dive into the details together.
What Do Healthy Fats Do for Our Bodies?
- Good fats ensure we get the essential that we need fatty acids
- Good fats help with healthy hormone production
- Good fats help with blood sugar regulation
- Good fats satisfy our appetites
- Good fats enhance mineral absorption in the body
- Good fats fuel for the heart
- Good fats help us heal faster
- Good fats build healthy bile, which aids in optimal fat digestion and emulsification
- Good fats line our organs and support growth and cell repair
- Good fats nourish every cell in our body and actually provide the building blocks for healthy cell membranes
- Good fats support the formation of anti-inflammatory substances in our bodies (prostaglandins)
- Good fats make our food taste good without added sugar, additives, or preservatives
While low-fat foods are often touted at the supermarket as health foods— they are usually packed with sugar! Since low-fat foods are highly processed, it is rare indeed that they are actually good for your body. Make sure to read the labels carefully and don’t buy anything with ingredients that make it sound like it was made in a lab.
How Are Fats Classified?
Perhaps part of the reason that fats are so misunderstood, is that there are so many different kinds of fats that have long names like monosaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which sound long, complicated, and hard to unpack without the aid of a high school science teacher. Let us do the legwork for you and take out all the guesswork.
Saturated Fatty Acids (SFAs) – Saturated Fatty Acids (SFAs) are highly stable in nature and can sit out at higher temperatures without going bad or turning rancid. At room temperature, they stay in a solid or semi-solid state.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs) – Monosaturated Fatty Acids (MFAs) are somewhat stable, they don’t turn rancid easily and become semi-solid when refrigerated. At room temperature, they turn into liquid.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) – Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) are unstable at room temperature and need to be refrigerated or else they will quickly turn rancid. They are easily impacted by light, moisture, heat, and oxygen exposure. Omega-3 and Omega 6- fatty acids will be in this category.
In all actuality, fats are a combination of fatty acids. They will be classified as SFAs, MUFAs, or PUFAs according to which type of fatty acid has the highest percentage.
Why is It Important to Avoid Partially-hydrogenated Oils and Hydrogenated Oils?
Get ready for a massive truth bomb because the health of the oil is often not about the classification of oil, but rather how it was processed. What is hydrogenation? Let’s start there. Hydrogenation is the fancy term for turning liquid oil into solid fat. Sounds like mad science. It is! This allows the food industry to give packaged foods a longer shelf life. It also produces trans fat. Have you ever heard of trans fat? Well, trans fat is often found in junk food and packaged foods, like crackers, cereals, mayonnaise, and even bread! Hydrogenated oils also are linked with numerous health issues and diseases, as they make all kinds of inflammation worse and they inhibit our body’s ability to absorb healthy nutrients, fatty acids, and vitamins from the fats themselves. Hydrogenated oils and trans fats harm blood sugar control and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, increases inflammation, and harm heart health. While many countries restrict trans fat, in the USA, the FDA has banned artificial trans fat as of 2018, although there may be some trans fat in processed foods and snacks as a result of the processing methods used.
If cooking with animal fats, make sure they are organically raised and grass-fed. This ensures that there are no added hormones or other additives in the oil itself. Also, in regard to tropical oils, they should be unrefined in nature and organic as well. An example of tropical oil is coconut oil.
Our founder, Jamie Fontaine Nappi’s favorite oil to cook with is good ol’ fashioned butter. Since butter has a balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Moreover, butter has butyric acid which nourishes the colon, and protects from fungal infections. It also has arachidonic acid which helps with brain function.
What Foods Should You Eat to Make Sure You’re Getting Good Fats Into Your Body?
You can’t go wrong with natural whole foods! Avocados and nuts are huge sources of healthy fats— but let’s make sure we run through the whole list with you here so you don’t miss out on any great sources of healthy fats.
- Whole milk plain greek yogurt
- Raw cheddar cheese
- Nuts, seeds, and nut butters (read the ingredients closely on nut butters!)
- Sardines and oysters
- Salmon and Tuna
- Raw/Organic organic coconut oil
- Full-fat coconut milk
- Eggs – including the yolks!
- Olive oil
Be Careful Which Fats You Cook With!
Fats are sensitive to heat and some fats become rancid, toxic, and dangerous for our bodies when included as part of the cooking process. The safest fats for cooking—baking, broiling, roasting, grilling, and frying—ghee, organic and virgin coconut oil, and organic and virgin red palm oil (although palm kernel oil is also acceptable).
The fats that are also fairly safe for cooking—stir-frying, light sauteeing, and slow/low simmering—olive oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, macadamia nut oil, and avocado oil. Make sure that the oils are always extracted with the expeller-pressing method.
Oils that you should never, ever cook with or expose to heat are vegetable oil, soybean oil, flax oil, corn oil, hemp oil, pine nut oil, pumpkin oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and grapeseed oil. Make sure that these oils are unprocessed and have never been refined!
Fats Are Not the Enemy!
Our cells need good fats! Too much of a low-fat diet is diminishing the nutrients of our cellular energy. All this can lead to organ and system dysfunction. This can lead to symptoms that pave the road to disease. Our body is an amazing machine! Machines need to be cared for with routine maintenance, and check-ups and need the proper fuel.
Without enough good fats in your diet, negative symptoms may occur like vitamin deficiencies, weak immune system, and even hair loss and rashes! Fats help our bodies maintain good health!
Choose your fats with great care. Healthy fats don’t make you fat. Fats are not the enemy!