Fat is Your Friend

You’re probably thinking right now, what?! Fat is our friend – since when? This statement comes as a shock because for decades we’ve been told that fat is bad and that low fat is the way to go.

The hype around low fat diets first began in the 1960s. By the 1980s low-fat foods were widely promoted as healthy options and America jumped on the bandwagon. We started eating more processed foods and refined carbohydrates like pasta, rice cakes, cereals, bagels and other baked goods. But to appeal to taste buds, low-fat foods compensated with refined flour and sugar, which has triggered a host of health problems including obesity and diabetes.

Now we know that one of the most basic links between diet and hormones is this: consuming too much refined flour and sugar disrupts hormonal balance by increasing insulin demand. Chronically high levels of insulin contribute to insulin resistance which leads to fat storage. However, eating fat does not trigger the release of insulin. And, contrary to popular belief, eating fat does not cause you to store fat. Healthy fats are necessary for cell function, reduce inflammation, help balance hormones, reduce the risk for heart disease and diabetes, support healthy function of the brain and nervous system and protect against mood swings and depression.

You know about the healthy sources of fat like fish, nuts and olive oil, but here some other sources of fat that you’ve probably cut out, but really aren’t necessary to:

  • Avocado – yes, avocadoes are high in fat, but high in healthy, monounsaturated fat. Avocadoes have shown to reduce cholesterol.
  • Egg yolks – stop throwing away your egg yolks and stop eating just the whites. Egg yolks are the richest source of choline, which boosts brain function and reduces inflammation. Eggs also promote weight loss and protect eyesight.
  • Milk – it’s okay to have some fat in your milk. You don’t have to limit yourself to just skim milk. Studies have shown that drinking whole milk may be better for building muscle and both – skim or whole – improve cholesterol levels.
  • Red meat – red meat does have health benefits and you don’t have to cut it out entirely. Stick with leaner meats of beef and try to go for grass-fed beef when possible, but it is okay to consume red meat. And don’t forget about other red meats like venison and bison, which are naturally leaner than the cow.
  • Butter – while a healthy oil is a better alternative, I’d rather you use real, unsalted butter than margarine. Margarine has trans fat, which is much worse that the saturated fat found in butter. You can incorporate butter or other healthy oils such as organic ghee (clarified butter) into your meals.

Now I don’t want you to think all fat is good – because it isn’t. You want to focus on high-quality fats, eat  saturated fat in moderation and avoid trans fat at all costs. Trans fat is man-made and the human body has absolutely no physiological need for it. So if you see “partially hydrogenated” oils or shortening listed on an ingredient label put that item back on the shelf and walk away.