This is probably one of the most common questions I still hear to this very day! And it isn't surprising because of all the negative press fatty foods have received over the last several decades.
But it is important to understand that not all fat is bad and simply eliminating fat from your diet will not guarantee healthy weight loss. In fact, it may do the exact opposite!
Before we go into the difference between good fats and bad fats, it is important you understand that eating more HEALTHY fats will help reduce cravings for unhealthy carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and sugary cereals. This is because they help to keep your blood-sugar levels much more stable. When our blood sugar levels spike and then crash we immediately crave the carbs!
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So why do we not want to shy away from all fats?
Fat is one of the three critical macro-nutrients for optimum health. Protein and carbohydrates are the other two macro-nutrients and all three, when harmoniously balanced are essential to ensure the body functions at its best.
The dilemma arises however when a woman is striving to lose weight, because fat is considered to be the enemy right? WRONG! Well partially wrong.... let me explain....
Some fats are super-health-boosting and support a healthy weight loss and and other fats will add what I call "empty calories" and will guarantee you continue to put on weight and/or struggle to maintain any weight loss you achieve. "Empty calories" simply means the food you are eating is high in calories but low in nutritional value. So you are getting zero benefit from those calories.
Some high-calorie foods however are what I call "quality calories". Meaning yes, they may have more calories that you would like to consume however there is a significant amount of nutritional benefit that essentially offsets the high calories. And these benefits not only support your health but support a healthy metabolism too which is essential for healthy, long-term weight loss.
Healthy fats fall within the "quality calories" category. They support your brain, hormones, immune system, metabolism, heart health, and moods. Dangerous fats on the other hand threaten the health of these same organs, systems and processes.
So now you know why being able to differentiate between the two is so important.
As a general rule, the fats from whole foods that are the least processed will be the healthiest for you. Check out the list below to get an idea what types of foods I am talking about here...
Healthy fats can be found in:
● Nuts and seeds (hemp, flax, and chia)
● Fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines)
● Seaweed (nori, dulse)
● Pasture-raised/grass-fed animals/eggs
● Olives (and it's extra-virgin oil)
● Coconuts (and it's natural oil)
I love “virgin” oils, and here’s why. Getting the oil out of a whole food involves some processing. Sometimes it’s by squeezing, or heating. Other times it’s by using chemical solvents. The word “virgin” is used to show minimal processing (and no solvents!).
According to the World Health Organization, the definition of virgin fats and oils is as follows...
“Virgin fats and oils are edible vegetable fats, and oils obtained, without altering the nature of the oil, by mechanical procedures, e.g., expelling or pressing, and the application of heat only. They may be purified by washing with water, settling, filtering and centrifuging only.”
To guarantee a natural, healthy extra virgin olive oil it must:
● Be cold pressed
● Not contain any refined olive oil
● Possess superior quality based on chemical composition and sensory characteristics.
So what fats and oils are considered dangerous then?
Dangerous fats are from:
● Seed and vegetable oils like safflower, soybean, and corn oils
● Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils.
Hydrogenated oils contain "trans fats" which you have likely heard are bad, bad, BAD! Studies show that trans fats lead to insulin resistance, inflammation and belly fat. They also drastically raise the risk of heart disease because these are the fats that tend to clog up the arteries.
Don’t forget, we’re not just talking about the oils themselves that you use in home cooking. We’re also looking at the processed foods that are loaded with them. These include the obvious baddies; cakes, biscuits, margerine, doughnuts, frozen pizza, fast food, microwave popcorn.....the list goes on and on!). Basically, if you insist on eating any packaged food, CHECK THE LABELS! If hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils are listed early in the list before any polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils, STAY AWAY!
So now that I have convinced you not to cut out ALL fats, but instead focus on getting a healthy balance of the "quality calorie" fats, let's look at 3 simple first steps you should take to start making the transition...
First, ditch any foods in your cupboards that contain safflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, or any hydrogenated oil. Soybean oil alone accounts for over 75% of oils consumed today which is NOT good news! Soybean oil is definitely within the "empty calorie" category. In fact, it also easily fits within the "toxic calorie" category too but that's a whole other article
Second, try substituting one of the health-building oils whenever you have a recipe that calls for the other stuff. Try flax oil in your salad dressing, avocado and/or olive oil in your cooking, and coconut oil in your baking.
Third, make healthier versions of your go-to processed foods. I’ll help you out now with my super-simple mayonnaise recipe below. It’s way better for you than the un-refrigerated stuff you find at your grocery store.
Recipe (healthy fat): Mayonnaise:
Makes about 1 ½ cups
1 large or extra large egg
2 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
1 cup olive or avocado oil
Add all ingredients except oil to your food processor. Process until creamy (about 10 seconds).
With the food processor running, add a few drops of oil into the egg mixture. Every few seconds add a few more drops. Continue until the mixture starts to thicken.
Now you can do a slow drizzle. Stop pouring, every once in a while checking that the oil gets fully incorporated.
Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge for up to 1-2 weeks.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Use this in place of mayonnaise for egg, salmon, chicken salads, etc.
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