With all the hype about fat, are you getting enough of the right fat?
I have lived in the healthcare world for years, and I am ALWAYS learning about fat, among AALLL the other “things”. My daughter’s dermatologist tells her to eat full fat milk, because it has less milk sugar, (lactose), and overall sugar intake is affecting her skin. Yet, there are guidelines about too much fat in our diet, and there are still recommendations to stay hovering around 25% fat, watching the saturated, animal and trans fats in our foods.
Saturated fat, is solid at room temperature and mostly comes from food like milk, butter and meat. It has been this type of fat that has been implicated in heart disease. This is showing up to be a misnomer in meta studies like this one.
We know that saturated plant fats, however, may be a healthy addition to our diets. Enter Coconut Oil, which has been debated back and forth, just like coffee has been glorified and vilified.
If I had a dollar for all the dental hygiene clients that talked about oil pulling, I’d be giving free Omega 3 supplements out here! 🙂
When I was in my 20’s, a low fat diet was THE way to stay healthy. Margarine was recommended and butter was the villain. Low fat yogurt was a popular breakfast food, and instead of the fat, SUGAR WAS ADDED TO FOODS BECAUSE …
Right. Except the sugar. Sugar has created it’s own set of health concerns. We have chronic overuse of sugar and engineered food tastes, that suck our taste buds in, fuel mindless eating, and weasel their way into our brains.
Fat builds your cells, helps in hormone balance and also keeps us feeling full. This is why it is important to get the right fat in your daily food intake. Another guideline for fat, is to keep saturated fat around 10% of your total fat. So you have 15% of your total food intake to play around with organic butter (delish!) or coconut oil.
Besides healthy cells and hormones that are functioning in tip top condition, our cell membranes are made of either Omega 6’s or Omega 3's.
Besides keeping you full (YAY!), fat also helps:
Support your immune system
Give you great hair
Decrease your brain function (Hello, Menopause)
Mineral and vitamin absorption
Provide cushioning for your organs
Regulates your digestive process
If your eyes are glazing over with boredom already, scroll down to find the foods that contain some good fats!
There are certain fats, called the Essential Fatty Acids, or (EFA’S, otherwise known as the omega’s) that we need to balance in our food habits. These are: ALA (alpha linoleic acid), found in plant food, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), found in fish and seafoods.
We have Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, but it’s the 3’s and 6’s that are in our cell membranes.
Many of us eat foods high in Omega 6 fats and we aren’t even aware of it. Our cells need some good Omega 3 fats, in balance with those 6’s. Omega 3’s help with inflammation and Omega 6’s, if there is way too much, inflammatory. Hence the need for some harmony.
Omega 3’s help with skin, hair, hormones and also cholesterol regulation. (Low cholesterol was a 90’s thing too, and like shoulder pads, things change, that goodness).
Omega 3’s also are in our brains and are important for brain power and function. Although we worry about this as we age, having this EFA in our diet at any age is a wise move. Omega 3 also helps increase leptin, which is the satiety hormone, and helps with fullness.
Our Standard American Diet (SAD), and yes, our Canadian diet, can contain up to 25 more times Omega 6’s than Omega 3’s. There is research to support ratios of 2:1 and 4:1. Some studies even state that 1:1 is optimal. Either way, I’m sure you don’t want to calculate your ratio’s of EFA’s!
Flaxseed oil. This is an easy addition to salad dressings, on vegetables and even tossed sneakily into smoothies for the kids. Using flax oil gives you 4.2 more times Omega 3’s one Omega 6’s.
Flax Seed. Sprinkled on your oatmeal, these have 3.9 times more Omega 3’s than 6’s. Be sure to use ground flax seed, as the whole seeds do not release their benefits like the ground version. Keep unused portions stored in the freezer for freshness. Taking one tablespoon a day can be therapeutic for cardiovascular health, and autoimmune diseases. (sources below)
Chia (Chee-a) seed. These little guys are a great egg substitute, and can also make an easy breakfast pudding, soaked in your preferred liquid, with fruit added, or anything else you like! Toss in smoothies, salads, on your oatmeal.
Hemp seed. Another delicious add-in to oatmeal or smoothies, hemp seeds have 2.5 times more Omega 3’s in their profile.
Lettuce. Yep. One head of green lettuce apparently has 5.8 times more Omega 3’s than 6’s. Who knew? You know what to do with lettuce right? Toss into your smoothies!
Green Beans. 1 cup green beans has 3.7 times more Omega 3’s than 6’s. I have not yet put any green beans in my smoothies, so if you do, let me know how it goes.
Spinach. Besides fibre, 1 cup of spinach has 2 mg of non-heme iron, high vitamin A, and some folic acid and vitamin C. Add some citrus to increase absorption of iron in your spinach salad.
Arugula. Leafy greens are so high in nutrients, and I love the peppery taste of arugula with a lemony dressing. Arugula has 1.3 times more omega 3 than 6.
We need a harmony of essential fats in our foods. We need the 6’s too. Combine some of these above with things like avocados, almonds, sunflower seeds, quinoa, lentils which all are rich in Omega 6, which is important in things like reproductive health and skin.
Some people opt for a supplement in the form of a capsule or liquid. Depending on the liquid, it can be flavoured, or not, and some kids squirm at the taste, even in the smoothie. Soft gels can be easier to take.
Check out your vitamin sources to ensure they are from sustainable fisheries, free of contaminants. We should look towards vitamins and supplements that are as natural as possible and not synthetic. Vitamins, like essential oils, can be created easily in a lab, cost less, and this can equal less effectiveness.
If you’re curious about how to assess your supplements click here. Always check with your doctor or licensed care provider when adding new supplements to your lifestyle plan, and have someone look at your food habits as well. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition, or are currently taking prescription drugs, please talk to your health practitioner before taking any Omega-3 Supplement.
Here in Canada, we have different rules for Natural Health Product Regulation, and you can read about them here.
Don’t be scared of fat, not dietary, and not on your body. We need it!
Looking to change your health and don’t know where to start? Curious about Mindful Eating, what it is, or how it can help you? How about body image and the decades of worry we have compiled over our bodies?
Contact me here, for a free discussion of your concerns.
Be well, and be happy,