If I could have one wish in the nutrition world it would be for dietary fat to have a different name than body fat. Why? Because there are so many reasons why fat is totally PHAT.
Often times when I encourage clients to eat more fat the skepticism in their eyes says, "is this a trick?" If a trick means staying fuller for longer, increasing your health, and enhancing flavor, then I guess, yes, it's a trick. Do you know the result of health gains? Longevity, weight loss, and confidence to name only a few. Win, win, win. So, how does this work, exactly?
Because fats digest slower than carbs or protein they help keep us satiated for a longer period of time and they help keep blood sugar stable, which is great for controlling appetite and energy levels. They help protect against heart disease by reducing LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and increasing HDL cholesterol (the good kind). They also help your body absorb fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K)!
Now, before you start putting butter on everything, let's get clear on what types of fat I'm taking about.
There are four types of dietary fats: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, and trans fats. Healthy fats are the mono-and-polyunsaturated fats and to some extent saturated fats, though in lesser quantity. These are foods like avocado, nuts and nut butter (especially walnuts because have omega 3s), olive oil, olives, seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax, chia), and fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines, trout, oysters, sea bass, sole). Although not as powerful as the foods listed above, Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, hemp seeds, and eggs are good sources too.
The main fats you want to avoid are the artery-clogging trans fats that are often found in commercial baked goods such as cakes, cookies, fried foods, and many processed snack foods like chips and crackers, margarine, and non-dairy creamers. The best way to avoid these fats is by checking the ingredients list for the red flags "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated."
Here are three ways to incorporate more healthy fats into your diet.
1. It's all about quality. You are high-quality person so you deserve to eat high-quality fats. When I say quality, I mean grass-fed butter or ghee, grass-fed meats, pasture-raisedbacon, dark chocolate (72% or darker). Grass-fed as opposed to grain-fed offers nutrient advantages of being higher in omega-3s, which are magical fats that can lower blood pressure, prevent blood clot formation, promote heart health, help fight depression, support memory and brain function, and reduce inflammation.
2. Skip skim. Fat adds flavor to foods so when manufacturers remove fat to create skim or low-fat products like milk, cheese, and crackers they have to add in something else to enhance taste. Do you know what they add in? SUGAR! Next time you're at the grocery store and you're not in a rush compare the nutrition label and ingredients list of skim milk to 2% milk or non-fat crackers to regular crackers and you'll see the difference. Opt for 2% or whole milk and yogurt.
3. Have 1-2 tablespoons of fat with every meal. The US Dietary Guidelines doesn’t encourage a low-fat diet and neither do I! They suggest that about 20-35% of our daily energy (calorie) intake should come from healthy fats. A typical day of eating with healthy fats might look like 2 tbsps of almond butter with breakfast, a drizzle of olive oil and 1 tbsp of flax seeds in a lunch salad, and 1/4 - 1/2 of an avocado and wild-caught salmon at dinner.
In good health,