The simple addition of good fats in every meal you make can be the one thing that changes everything. I know… it seems so easy and you might be thinking how you’ve tried everything under the sun to achieve better health, glowing skin, reduced inflammation and a healthier weight. But often it is the simple things that we often overlook that make the biggest difference in our lives.
I lived for years trying to micromanage annoying symptoms. From different herbal medicines, “power” foods, treatments — you name it, I tried it. And then, fortunately, life put me in the position to change the way I thought about fat. From a place of completely fearing it (I wasted a lot of time counting the grams of fat in everything I ate) to a place of food freedom where I now not only enjoy fat without panic but amazingly, it has revolutionized the way I feel on a daily basis.
Let me ask you: What do you want your food to do for you? If you are like me, you want it to do double time being a source of both pleasure and nourishment. Yes, food is tasty and fun, but I’m deeply connected to the powerful impact food has on our biology. That food can be our medicine humbles me because I have experienced firsthand that it can be transformative in the best possible way while it can simultaneously also be depleting and devastate your system depending on what you eat.
I have learned that food is so personal and there is no one-size fits all approach to diet that will work for everyone. Yet the one thing I know for sure is that we all obey some basic and universal nutritional science. For example, while some people may do better on a higher fat and lower carbohydrate diet than others, even the vegetarians or plant-based eaters among us who feel better on a higher carbohydrate, lower fat diet still require good fats. So while our individual portions may vary, it doesn’t change the fact that to be human is to need good fats.
There are so many beautiful fats to choose from! This topic gets me so excited and in this two-part blog, I share with you my top 10 good fats. If you are new to eating more good fats or you just want to increase the variety of them in your daily diet I am confident you will find something useful here.
Naomi’s Top 10 GoodFats:
- Medium-chain triglycerides are a type of saturated fats that don’t have flavor and therefore are very versatile. Since they aren’t digested like long-chain fatty acids, they can be used for energy immediately. They go directly to your liver where MCT’s are converted into ketones that can be a healthy source of clean energy for your system to burn.
- Why Use them? MCT’s have been studied for their positive effects on hunger, cravings, energy, athletic stamina, weight management, cognition and neurological health, mood and decreased risk of chronic disease (known as “lifestyle” diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and autoimmune conditions).
2. Coconut: Virgin oil, butter & meat:
- Rich in MCT fats and saturated fatty acids. Coconut oils can be used in a variety of culinary uses from sautéing to smoothies and even my favorite — fat bombs. But you can use coconut oil in your beauty and hygiene products as well. I love using it in homemade toothpaste, body creams and lotions, and general skin care.
- Why Use them? Coconut oils have been studied and their virtues extend beyond being an efficient source of quick and easy to digest fuel. Coconut oils have gained momentum to be one of the essential fats we all benefit from without worry of these saturated fats clogging our arteries or causing digestive issues. The science proves the opposite in fact. My favorite therapeutic benefits of coconut are its positive impact on cholesterol (HDL, LDL and particle size), weight management (the MCT oils can help curb your appetite and normalize insulin levels), and also its role in immunity and inflammation (The lauric acid, capric and caprylic acids in coconut oil are antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral).
Okay, I have a bonus favorite for using coconut oil — applying it topically helps improve the presence of wrinkles, fine lines, and dry ragged skin. I love using coconut oil to hydrate my skin and give it a radiant glow!
3. Olive: Virgin oil and olives:
- Most of the fat (more than 75 percent) in olives is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat known to most people as being the queen of healthy fats. While I want you to enjoy lots of monounsaturated fats in your meals, ensuring the quality of these is important. Unlike saturated fats, monounsaturated fats include an empty chair at the table for oxidation to occur. When this happens, what was initially a healthy fat can quickly become a bad fat. Always keep your olive oil in a dark and cool place and after each use, make sure to put the cap on. I love snacking on olives, adding them to pesto’s and sauces and toping poached eggs or fish with tapenade. I try not to cook with olive oil and would much rather drizzle it on top of my food.
- Olives contain an abundance of antioxidants that have been studied for preventing cancer, anti-aging, heart health and even boosting your mood.
4. Avocado: Virgin oil and avocado meat
- Avocado is probably one of my favorite fats. I eat several of them daily in fact. Like olive oil, they contain a large amount of oleic fatty acids. Oleic acid is known to decrease inflammation and lower the risk of the major lifestyle diseases plaguing us today. Avocado oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil so you can cook with the oil in addition to drizzling it over your food or use it in dressings and sauces.
- Avocados are intensely nutrient rich. Aside from their load of good fats, they contain fiber, B vitamins including folate, vitamin E, vitamin C and minerals like potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Because of this amazing synergy, it is not surprising that they’ve been associated with weight loss, lowered risk of heart disease, improved insulin levels and overall less risk of metabolic syndrome. As someone personally invested in heart health, I find their nutrition profile a saving grace for my interest in foods that are cardioprotective. The literature is really exciting about avocado’s raising HDL levels and decreasing triglycerides. It’s time to stop fearing these good fats and instead, it’s time to celebrate them!
Stay tuned for the rest of “My Top 10 Good Fats” in Part Two.