For more than half a century now, fats have been vilified in the West and blamed for the rise in heart disease, obesity and other chronic illnesses. We have been taught to be afraid of fat and choose low-fat options or avoid fat altogether, but at what cost to our health? Do we really understand the concept of what are healthy fats?
In September of this year researchers at the University of San Francisco uncovered controversial findings from the 1960’s implicating sugar as the main culprit in the rise of chronic illness. On top of this, they also found evidence proving the sugar industry paid scientists to do a literature review in 1967 that overlooked the role of sugar in heart disease. According to the review published in JAMA Internal Medicine, with backing from the sugar lobby, scientists promoted dietary fat as the cause of coronary heart disease instead of sugar.
This cover-up has been a double whammy to our health. While sugar increases inflammation, weight gain and the risk of chronic disease, healthy fats lower the incidence of all three. So we have, thanks to false propaganda, reduced intake of what really supports our health and instead, increased our consumption of the foods that drag it down.
Why we must all consume healthy fats
Fat helps hold us together – every cell membrane in our body is composed mostly of fat, making fat a major structural component of each of us.
Brain health, structure and function are dependent on fat, with over 70% of the nervous system, including the brain being comprised of fat.
Skin health, glow and elasticity are enhanced by healthy fat intake.
Joint suppleness – fat lubricates our joints and allows them to move freely
Inflammation reduction. Inflammation is a key contributor to most chronic diseases and most healthy fats reduce inflammation in the joints, blood vessels, brain and body systems.
Healthy fats lower cholesterol levels and raise beneficial HDL levels – they are vital for blood pressure and a healthy heart.
Are All Fats Healthy?
While I’m advocating eating fat every day and a small amount at each meal and snack, it is important to remember that all fats are not made equal. Hydrogenated oils, trans-fats, found in margarines and processed, baked and fried foods are definitely detrimental to our health so we do need to avoid these.
Time for Change – Include These 5 Healthy Fats and Oils Daily
Here are five foods containing abundant amounts of healthy fats, including omega 3 and 6, monounsaturated fats and medium chain fatty acids. Most of these cannot be made by the body and so must be obtained from the diet.
Fish and Fish Oil – high in omega 3 fats that our body can’t produce are important in reducing inflammation and feeding your brain. (If you can’t get enough omega 3 fatty acids through the diet it may be worth supplementing with fish oil at around 2-4 grams per day).
Avocados – high in monounsaturated fats which raise good cholesterol and lower bad and in vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant, boosts immunity and is an anti-aging nutrient for your skin.
Butter and Ghee – Remember butter and ghee are natural products so choose these over margarine that is chemically altered vegetable oil and full of detrimental trans fats. Ghee has a very high smoke point and is perfect for high heat cooking. Butyric acid can be really healthy for us. When we eat healthy foods, especially fibers, our good bacteria produce butyric acid in our gut – a substance very similar to what is contained in butter and ghee!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is known to reduce the incidence of heart attack due to it’s high levels of monounsaturated fats. It also helps to improve memory and reduce inflammation. Remember, olive oil is not suitable for high heat cooking. It’s excellent as a cold dressing on many foods including salads.
Coconut Oil is rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which help fight Candida, are anti-inflammatory and great brain food. Coconut oil is the only fat (other than mother’s milk) that is capable of being digested directly in your mouth, without the need for pancreatic lipase. It is a fantastic source of medium chain fatty acids, that can be broken down rapidly in your body, as a fuel source for your brain. It is a fantastic wonder food, full of ketones, excellent for you brain and to help stave of age-related dementia.
Karena is a clinical nutritionist, health coach, writer and presenter. She runs a private practice dedicated to the integrative and holistic treatment of adults and children with chronic physical and mental conditions and is passionate about educating individuals in health and wellbeing. Karena feels that education through speaking and writing helps prevent chronic illness and directly influences the success of individuals, families and communities as a whole.