For a long time fats got a bad rap, and even though there’s much more information now on the benefits of fats in our diet, I’ve noticed in conversations with others that there’s still much confusion as to what we should avoid and what fats we should bring in. Fats end up sitting on your cell walls, so the question I was presented with was this . . . “Do you want your cell walls to be made of potato chips or olive oil? Bacon or avocado?” I know many would answer that last question with “bacon!” . . . but truly, when you really think about it? Avo for me! Healthy fats allow the cells to be fluid so that they can float easily and smoothly in the bloodstream and transport nutrients across the cell membranes with ease. Unhealthy fats, on the other hand, cause the cell membranes to be stiff and less fluid, causing them to nick and damage. They also act like “gum” on a lock, not only making it hard to transport nutrients but as well blocking the release of insulin and therefore potentially leading to diabetes. For healthy fats, we’re talking about avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, and dark chocolate to name a few. Unhealthy fats are what you’d typically think . . . fried food, chips, too much dairy and meat, and many types of meat in general (hot dogs come to mind). I’m going to focus on just a few healthy fats that I love to bring into my diet.
Anyone that knows me knows how much I love DARK chocolate. Not only for it’s taste, but the fact that it’s loaded with antioxidants, minerals, and fiber! It’s actually the highest ranking food in antioxidants . . but go for at least 70% and above to get the health benefits.
Avocados. I eat about one a day! I love that avocados can pair with about anything! I eat them with nut butters, olives, veggies or veggie burgers, quinoa. I spice it up with cayenne pepper, ginger and sea salt . . or I’ve even been know to mix it with melted chocolate or cocoa powder to make a tasty “chocolate pudding”. Like chocolate, they’re knows to lower LDL cholesterol. They’re also high in potassium and fiber. Don’t forget about the avocado seed as well! Sidenote . . I love that avocados are actually a fruit. The seeds themselves contain the majority of the antioxidants, including flavonol, an antioxidant that helps prevent and reduce tumor growth. The seeds also contain a large amount of soluble fibers. If you have a strong blender, they can be blended right into your smoothie and you’ll hardly notice it’s there.
Nuts and seeds are great snacks to have on hand as long as you don’t have any allergies to them. They vary in nutrient content depending on the nut and seed, but provide healthy and filling fats. In general, they’re high in fiber and a good plant-based source of protein. They’re also high in Vitamin E and magnesium. I snack on a small amount when I’m needing something in-between meals, trying to mix it up on the type of nuts since they all provide something different. Nut butters may work better for some people that have weaker digestive systems as then the nuts are already broken down. If you’re eating them whole, just be sure that you chew well to make them easier to digest. Another option is to soak them in water if the nuts are raw, making them easier to break down. I try to buy raw whenever I can and/or organic, just to get the highest quality.
Coconut oil . . one of my favorites. I cook with coconut oil constantly because it can withstand a high temperature without oxidizing like many plant oils do. And it provides great flavor! Coconut oil has a high amount of saturated fats but it consists of medium-chain fatty acids, which digest quickly so it doesn’t tax the liver or cause cholesterol issues. Coconut oil has therapeutic healing qualities for the skin and immune system. Whenever my daughter got a little bum rash, I just used straight coconut oil and it resolved it overnight!
The list of healthy fats goes on, but these are a few to start experimenting with. You may find that as you start incorporating more healthy fats into your diet, you naturally fill up more on these and find yourself eating less carbs and eating less often (fats fill you up for a longer amount of time that carbs) . . . and therefore you drop weight without really trying. I’ve seen it happen over and over again . . something to experiment with if you’re trying to loose weight naturally and stick with it. Another thing I love about fats before I sign off, is that they pair well with protein or carbs. A rule of thumb for healthy digestion (aka, no gas, bloating, constipation, etc), is to not consume protein and carbs in the same meal. But fats can go with either and digest just fine. So get your healthy fats with each meal and experiment with it as a snack instead of chips or popcorn and see how you feel!