The Lowdown on Healthy Fats – Are They Really Healthy?
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For a long time, fat was demonized and thought of as the cause of many different health issues. But after years of us being fat-phobic, we’re realizing that certain types of fats are actually an essential part of a healthy diet. So-called “healthy fats,” like avocado and olive oil, are important for overall health, mental health, skin health, maintaining a healthy weight, and nutrient absorption. So let’s run down what fats are considered healthy to make sure you’re getting the right types of fats.
My Favourite Healthy Fats:
- Nuts (raw or dry roasted are best)
- Seeds (pumpkin, sesame, chia, hemp)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Ghee (great for cooking or spreading on toast)
- Coconut oil (great for cooking)
Fats to Avoid/Limit:
- Safflower, canola, soybean, sunflower, corn, and cottonseed oils
- Fried foods
- Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil (found in margarine and shortening)
Benefits of Healthy Fats:
Mental Health: Adding healthy fats to your diet, specifically omega 3s, can boost serotonin levels in the brain, helping to improve mood. Your brain is about 60% fat. Of that percentage, the biggest portion comes from an omega-3 fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Your brain needs DHA to spark communication between cells. Eating high-quality fats provides easy access to DHA, which boosts cognition, happiness, learning, and memory.
Skin Health: What we eat can significantly affect the health and aging of our skin. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to keep our skin supple and moisturized. Omega 3s reduce inflammation and can help with redness and acne. Consuming healthy fats is linked to both younger looking and healthier skin.
Weight Management: Consuming healthy fats reduces fat storage and increases satiety. According to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, “old” fat (also called subcutaneous fat) stored in the body’s peripheral tissues—around the belly, thighs, or butt—can’t be burned efficiently without “new” fat. Consuming healthy fats helps break down existing fat by activating fat-burning pathways through the liver. Consuming healthy fats also makes us feel full and satisfied, resulting in less cravings. Including healthy fats in your diet is a key element to both losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight, without feeling deprived!
Vitamin Absorption: Many important nutrients, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, are fat-soluble, meaning that the body can’t absorb them without fat. If your body isn’t absorbing nutrients properly, that can lead to vitamin deficiencies, which comes with a whole host of other issues. Yes, a salad with spinach, tomatoes, and carrots is a great choice but without some olive oil or another healthy fat, you’re actually missing out on a lot of the nutrition!
How Much Healthy fat Should You Eat?
As a rule of thumb, I would recommend including a healthy fat at every meal; serving size would depend on the person. Some ideas are chia seeds in your smoothie, olive oil on your veggies, and/or nut butter on your toast.
Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Healthy Fats:
- Dry and scaly skin
- Dry eyes
- Dry hair and/or hair loss
- Always feeling hungry
- Issues concentrating and/or mental fatigue
- Constantly feeling tired/low energy levels
Some of My Favourite Products:
Lee’s Ghee Plain Jane All-Purpose Ghee: Ghee is clarified butter. It has a smoke point of 485oF, versus butter which burns at 350oF. It’s important to only cook with fats that have a high smoke point; otherwise, they can lose their beneficial properties. I love using ghee as a butter replacement. It’s great to cook with or to spread on toast. Lee’s Ghee is a favourite since it’s organic and comes in lots of delicious flavours!
Maison Orphee Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Balanced: When buying olive oil, I always look for cold pressed/extra virgin and a dark bottle. Olive oil is sensitive to heat and light so when exposed to these elements, your oil loses some of its health benefits. Taking these precautions when choosing your olive oil ensures you’re getting all the amazing benefits it has to offer.
Rawcology Chocolate Superfood Coconut Chips: These chocolate coconut chips are delicious on their own, or to top off yogurt or a smoothie. They’re filled with healthy fats and make an easy snacking option (you can even keep them in your desk at work!).
Nuts To You Hazelnut Butter: When buying nut or seed butter, it’s always important to read the ingredients—it’s best to avoid nut butters that add in sugar and/or oils. Nuts To You uses only dry roasted nuts with no other fillers or additives. Hazelnut butter is a favourite since it tastes delicious and contains the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids when compared to other nuts. Hazelnut butter is delicious on an apple, in a smoothie, or even by itself on a spoon!
Aly is a Certified Nutrition Practitioner (CNP) who graduated from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition and holds a BA from Western University. Aly’s warm and approachable demeanor empowers her clients to take control of their health. She uses a realistic approach, with an emphasis on balance and whole foods to personally address your nutrition needs. Aly believes that eating healthy isn’t about being perfect, it’s about having a plan you can stick to that gives you energy while allowing you to eat the foods you love. Aly believes that with the right tools and guidance you can make positive lifestyle changes to enjoy a happier and healthier life!