Fats have been getting a bad rap since the 1990s--in the age of Skittles and Snackwells--when Fat Free diets were praised and those foods on which our ancestors thrived for years (butter, yogurt, lard) were discouraged. As a result, many of us are ingrained to think that the fat free yogurt or the skim milk options are more healthy. We even avoid butter at all costs because we believe saturated fats will clog your arteries.
Well the fact is that fats are good for us. For starters, our brain is comprised of 60% fat. It is essential for growth and development, provides energy, and helps the body absorb nutrients. Foods such as carrots, tomatoes, leafy greens, which are comprised of fat soluable vitamins (A, E, K, and D), are more efficiently absorbed when fats are present.
But, there is a catch...not all fats are created equal and can be compromised in your kitchen.
Here is a quick list to help you identify which fats are good and which to avoid:
Full Fat Dairy
Nut Oils & Butters
Nuts & Seed Oils
* Unrefined, pasture-raised/grass-fed & organic sources are ideal
I was surprised to find butter and lard on the “good” list but it’s important to know that quality is key. Butter from pasture-raised cattle in an organic environment have a richer source of omega 3 fatty acids than conventionally raised dairy cattle.
Not only is the quality important but also how each fat is used in the kitchen. Come to find out that using olive oil to saute or broil my dinner is not the best choice. Olive oil (along with all unsaturated fats) is very healthy in its natural state but when heated, the health benefits are altered and oxidation occurs. Thus, you are left with a damaged fat. To avoid this from happening, it is recommended to use only unsaturated fats for drizzling at the end of the meal (think olive oil on your salad or steamed vegetables). If you need to heat your food, you should choose a saturated fat which burns at a higher temperature, thus decreasing your exposure to oxidative stress.
Below are some ways to add healthy fats to your morning routine...
Full Fat Yogurt + Berries + Walnuts/Granola
I like European style yogurt but Greek is thicker and has more protein.
Oatmeal + Flax seeds + Fruit
Flax seeds need to be ground in order for your body to utilize its benefits.
2 Whole Eggs + Veggies (or add eggs to half of an avocado!)
No, not just egg whites, yolks are the best part for you!
Fruit Smoothie + Avocado
Avocados help thicken it up and contain more potassium than a banana!
Sprouted Wheat Toast + Nut Butter
I like the Ezekiel Bread brand or any gluten free bread. Make sure to look for nut butters without any added sugar, Justin's brand is great!
Contributed by Laura Lemon
Student at Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition, Nutrition Consultant Program
Sources: Bauman, E., Friedlander, J. Foundations of Nutrition. Penngrove: Bauman College, 2013. Sanfilippo, Diane. Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-foods Lifestyle. Las Vegas: Victory Belt, 2012.Farshchian, Thalia. "Blog." Eat Life Whole. N.p., 30 Jan. 2013. Web. 05 Sept. 2013. Image: Brones, Anna. "Sunday Recipe: Baked Egg in an Avocado with Parsley and Goat Cheese" EcoSalon. N.p., 27 May 2012. Web. 05 Sept. 2013.