Byline: Lynn Louise Wonders
All the science around the different kinds of fats in your diet might leave your head spinning! Never fear!
I am going to simplify all that science so we can get you on your way to greater health and well-being. Let’s chew the fat on fat, shall we?
You’ve probably heard a lot about good fats and bad fats right?
Let’s talk in terms of healthy vs. unhealthy instead.
And, while we’re at it, let’s also consider something called ratio and, of course, moderation.
The only really unhealthy fat to always avoid is hydrogenated fat or trans fat.
I must warn you, we just can’t trust the labels on commercial foods that claim “no trans fats.”
Sadly, companies are allowed to make that statement if the levels are below a certain number. The truth is if the ingredients label lists the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated”, trans fats are likely lurking in that food item. Best to skip that one.
Omega 3s, 6s and 9s…oh my!
Both omega-3 and omega-6 are considered essential fatty acids (EFA). They are essential to the health of our bodies BUT we have to get these healthy fats through foods or supplements. And in the right RATIO.
Let’s begin with Omega 3
Some of the benefits science tells us we get from consuming Omega 3s are:
- Lower elevated triglyceride levels
- Decreased inflammation for arthritis or other autoimmune disorders
- Helps with ADHD
- May help prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
Fish has the most easily absorbable source of healthy Omega 3s.
But hold on…
It is really important we get our fish and/or our fish oil supplements from clean, non-toxic fish sources.
Access a list of fish healthy to eat and those to avoid by clicking HERE.
There are other kinds of Omega 3s we can derive from walnuts, flax seeds, expeller pressed canola oil, wheat germ and soybeans.
But before you run out and gnosh on a whole lot of nuts and edamame, make sure your walnuts are raw and fresh. If they have an odor… bad news…the oil in them has gone rancid. As for soybeans, well, only eat them in moderation, make sure they are certified organic and check with your doctor because too much soy (or sometimes any at all) can affect hormone levels.
What about Omega 6?
Omega 6 essential fatty acids are easily and readily found in a variety of foods. In fact, the typical American diet is far too heavy on Omega 6s causing health problems including obesity. You’ll find omega 6s in all sources of animal protein, most nuts, and eggs. The key here is ratio. Americans are typically way out of balance. You can fix your ratio though!
And Omega 9s?
Omega-9 fatty acids are monounsaturated fats. Omega 9s also offer a lot of health benefits. They are important for heart health and blood sugar control and can be obtained in the diet through foods such as expeller pressed canola oil, nuts and avocados.
So how do we find balance? The right ratio.
The easiest way to be sure your healthy fats ratio is a good one is to eat the following foods regularly:
- Raw (preferably organic) nuts and seeds, such as fresh organic flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts
- Fish that are sourced from clean waters and found on the list of sustainable seafood
- Organic grass-fed or pasture-fed butter
- Organic eggs from pastured, free-range hens are rich in beneficial omega-3s
- Meat from animals that are free ranging and/or grass fed, which are higher in beneficial omega-6s
- Unprocessed organic oils such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and avocado oil
- Coconut oil, (though not an omega-3 or omega-6 fat)- is a MOST beneficial dietary fat with benefits for heart health, metabolism, immune system, skin and thyroid
- Avocados are a source of omega 9 and they have special properties in their fat content that have been shown to have all kinds of health benefits
The gifts of healthy fats
Healthy fats derived from clean, healthy sources in combination with your whole foods diet rich in phytonutrients from veggies and high fiber fruits help your body to run like a well-oiled machine. Healthy fats in the right ratio aid in reducing inflammation, improve brain functioning, assist in having healthy skin, provide lasting energy and much more.
Eating healthy fats will NOT make you fat!
Let’s dispel myths and get the facts straight here.
Dietary fat IS high in calories whether it’s unhealthy or healthy fat, yes. Too many calories consumed with not enough activity can results in weight gain, absolutely.
But the quality of the fats you are consuming in moderation, proper ratio and in addition to your healthy whole foods diet makes all the difference in how your body assimilates and utilizes those nutrients.
Eating just the right ratio of healthy fats will help your metabolism to operate more efficiently! The key is to consider portions and moderation when adding healthy fats to your larger portions of vegetables throughout the day.
Leptin is a special hormone. Its job is to communicate to your brain how much fat your body has and how much your body needs.
As women, in particular, grow older, we sometimes develop resistance to leptin. In order to address our leptin resistance, Science is finding that eating significant portions of protein and healthy fats in the morning, as soon after waking as possible can really help signal a sense of satiety and build a health leptin connection.
Weave Healthy Fats Into Your Diet: Tricks and Tips
- Add a scoop of chia seeds and a scoop of organic pea protein to your green smoothie
- Scramble some organic, free-range eggs in a tablespoon of coconut oil
- Chop raw walnuts and sprinkle a tablespoon over a big green salad
- Make your own salad dressings with expeller pressed walnut oil, canola oil and extra virgin olive oil
- Nibble on pistachios and raw almonds instead of buttered popcorn at the movies (small servings will suffice!)
- Buy a coffee grinder to be used for flax seeds ONLY – grind flax seeds and mix into your smoothies and drink right away to get the benefits into your body
- Shop for sustainable fish and aim for 4-5 servings each week
- If you eat chicken, beef or other meats, opt for grass-fed and free-range only
May your relationship with healthy fat be long-lasting! Here’s to your health!
Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S, CPCS, E-RYT is s holistic psychotherapist, yoga teacher, nutrition enthusiast and wellness coach providing programs and all natural, organic products to support health weight loss and wellness for women over 40. Lynn has studied nutrition and whole health in-depth with qualified nutrition experts and sources her information from the latest research and scientific findings. You can read more and connect with Lynn at www.wonderswellness.com