There has been an anti-fat crusade for the past 50 years, so it’s no surprise our relationship with it is full of doubt and mistrust. A lot of people still regard labels like “low-fat” as a sign of a healthy choice. That needs to change!
It’s important to realize that fats are and have always been a natural and very important part of our diet. They provide essential fatty acids, help us digest fat-soluble vitamins, keep our metabolism flexible, and can be a great source of clean energy. Yet most of the time, they are mentioned in discussions about heart disease and mortality risks rather than healthy eating. Why? Industrial food processing strikes again. Those delicious sweets, ice cream, and baked goods are all full of the bad kinds of fat like hydrogenated oils or highly processed industrial seed oils. Even naturally occurring saturated fats get a bad rep because of meat processing and concentrated animal feeding. Bad fats are so prevalent that poor avocados and olive oil became ostracized as a health freaks’ choice.
It is no surprise that the correlation between fat consumption and risk of modern diseases raised some red flags in this context. We got scared, reacted before having a clear picture, and thus the Frankenstein of foods, the low-fat choice, was created. Yes, we replaced the most nutritious part of dairy that holds all the essential fatty acids, anti-oxidants, and fat-soluble vitamins with sweeteners and artificial flavorings. While at it, we also accused butter, eggs and fatty meats of murder, all in hopes of protecting us from obesity. Did it work? Not many people would nod their heads in agreement. So how do we reap the benefits fat consumption has to offer while avoiding the harmful effects of bad fats and carbs?
How to add healthy fats into your diet?
Avoiding processed foods and meat from conventionally raised animals is a great first step; however it is not an easy one, considering the world in which we live. That’s why we need to learn where to look for good fats and how to include them as a normal part of our diet. Here are a few tips.
- Eat eggs, nuts and avocados regularly. These can easily be called super-foods because of their excellent fatty acid profile and micro-nutrient content.
- Don’t be afraid of fatty cuts of meat and fish. Just put a high priority on the quality of their source.
- Buy only full-fat dairy, ideally from your local farmer. If you tolerate it well, it’s a great source of fat and many essential nutrients.
- Use more fat when cooking. You will enhance the resulting flavor and make it easier for your body to extract vitamins from the meal. Just choose the right fats for the job like ghee or coconut oil so there is no risk of them being oxidized.
- Use cold pressed oils in preparation without heat. Learn how to combine them with spices and vinegar, and salads just might become your favorite meal.
- Put heavy cream in your coffee. It can reduce appetite and serve as a healthy snack.
- Learn how to make guacamole. I can almost guarantee it will become your favorite healthy condiment.
- Choose fatty cheese as a snack. Again, quality is important. So is not over-eating.
- Don’t shy away from chocolate. Its consumption has many health benefits, and it is a practical snack option for hiking or sports. Just to be clear, I am talking about bitter dark chocolate with at least 70% of cocoa.