Healthy Fats: What's the Deal?

After recently taking an interest in the research and literature of Dr. Mark Hyman, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, Lisa decided to sign up for his Eat Fat, Get Thin challenge!  She is learning so much valuable information about living a cleaner lifestyle and especially about the power of healthy fats. Now Inspiral would like to share some of this knowledge with you! 

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH “HEALTHY” FATS?

Studies have shown that eating more “good fat” can:

·         Support speedy metabolism

·         Shut off your brain’s hunger and craving centers

·         Raise healthy food intake

·         Influence your taste preferences

·         Reduce fat storage

·         Improve the appearance of hair, skin, and nails

·         Boost mental and physical energy

·         Increase your brain power

These are just a few of the many benefits of fat found in recent research. 

BUT I THOUGHT FAT WAS BAD!

You’re not alone; so do a lot of people! Unfortunately, Americans have been hearing for years that fat is evil. This is a result of what Dr. Hyman calls a “disconnect between nutrition science and food policy” and a “mismatch between the science and the government and professional recommendations.” (Very) long story short: even though current research has found that high quality fat is good for you and can actually prevent and reverse diseases, it’s hard to get away from decades of doctors and the government (and in turn, the food industry) preaching the myth that fat causes obesity and heart disease and should be avoided at all costs.  Dietary fat does not make you fat. We repeat: dietary fat does not make you fat!

IF FAT DOESN’T CAUSE OBESITY AND “WESTERN LIFESTYLE DISEASES” LIKE HEART DISEASE, DIABETES, AND METABOLIC SYNDROME, WHAT DOES?

Sugar! The average American eats 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour (that converts to sugar) every year. That amounts to nearly a pound of sugar and flour combined every day – which is basically eating a box of cake mix.

Unfortunately, the “low fat diets” that are still so popular with Americans tend to steer dieters toward eating more starch and sugar – and more processed foods in general. As we eat more and more sugar, our body’s relationship with insulin suffers. Your cells don’t respond or react as effectively to insulin, so your body pumps out insulin in increasing amounts in order to pull your blood sugar levels back down. And since you can’t burn off all of the sugar you eat, your body inevitably stores it as fat. This process creates insulin resistance and it wreaks havoc on your metabolism. To learn (much) more on the evils of sugar, check out our blog here.

WHAT MAKES SOME FATS “GOOD” AND SOME FATS “BAD”?

Unlike sugar, fat is a complex macronutrient. Fat can be saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, or trans-unsaturated – and there are subcategories within each of those types as well! Trans fats are bad 100% of the time and should be avoided entirely. Monounsaturated fats (such as the fat in avocados, olives, and nuts) and polyunsaturated fats (found in walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, and fatty fish) are healthy for you. Whether or not saturated fat is “good” is up for debate, but studies have found that it doesn’t need to be entirely vilified the way it used to be. For now, think of it this way: saturated fat from a plant source, such as coconut oil, is obviously a better choice than the saturated fat you’ll find in a fast food burger. For a handy chart about “good” and “bad” fats, check out this entry on Pressed Juicery’s Chalkboard blog!

HOW DO I INCLUDE MORE HEALTHY FATS IN MY DIET?

Avoid most vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, corn, and especially soybean oil. Instead, boost your intake of the healthy fat by adding these sources below to a whole food-based, low-glycemic, high fiber diet:

·         Avocados

·         Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts…but not peanuts)

·         Seeds (pumpkin, sesame, chia, hemp, flax)

·         Fatty fish (sardines, mackerel, herring, wild salmon)

·         Extra virgin olive oil

·         Grass-fed animal products

·         Extra virgin coconut butter

Eager to learn more about how to incorporate healthier eating habits into your daily life? Email us at info@inspiralmotion.com to sign up for our nutrition mailing list!

For more information on Dr. Hyman’s research and his Eat Fat, Get Thin philosophy, check out his website here