14 Sep Foundational fats
Okay, let’s move on to fats!
Healthy fats, like the ones listed below, make up our cell walls. Your body is made up of cells – the basic unit of all living organisms. Your cells make you who you are! Inside your body, cells are constantly dying or being destroyed, while new ones are forming all the time. In sum, your cells are busy creating energy, transporting molecules and keeping you healthy.
DID YOU KNOW? How many cells are there in the body? The answer is that no one knows the answer: anywhere from 50 trillion to 10 to the 14th power!
Without healthy fats, our cells can’t function, and if our cells can’t function, we can’t either! You need fats to lead a healthy life, so don’t think that fats will make you fat, like some people erroneously (meaning wrongly) do. Fats in the right amounts help you to thrive and stay healthy. They are critical for your health. Just try to eat more unsaturated fats than saturated. What are those?
Many different kinds of fats exist: unsaturated fat, saturated fat and trans fat. Which do you think is the healthiest? Yep, unsaturated is.
Unsaturated fats are generally liquid at room temperature, while saturated fats are solid at room temperature (due to a lot of hydrogen molecules but we don’t need to get all technical) and saturated fats have long been associated with an increased risk of heart disease (although not all people agree on that, see ttps://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/features/truth-about-saturated-fats).
DID YOU KNOW? The current recommendation is to limit the amount of calories you consume (eat) from saturated fats to 5-6% of your overall diet. So if you need 3,000 calories a day, only 150 should be from saturated fats.
As such, try to be aware of the types of fats you are eating and consider choosing unsaturated fats over saturated (and ALWAYS over trans…). Good sources of healthy fats (unsaturated) include:
- canola and olive oil
- fatty fish such as salmon
Fish and some eggs (both protein foods) are unique in that they have a type of fat that our bodies don’t make. These fats are called “essential fatty acids.” They are also called “omega 3s” and “omega 6s.” You want to eat them, especially “omega 3s.” They help your heart, lungs, brain, and circulation – now that’s powerful stuff!
Some good sources include:
Fatty fish: i.e. albacore tuna (canned is fine), salmon (farmed has higher omega 3s than wild), Atlantic herring, muscles, anchovies, swordfish, sardines
Nuts- especially walnuts
Eggs (the yolks)
Leafy greens like spinach and kale
Wait! wasn’t there a third type of fat? Yes. Although we largely wish it didn’t exist! Artificial trans fats are basically a reconfigured fat to make it more like a saturated fat, i.e. solid at room temperature. Trans fat occur in very small amounts in nature but manufacturers have created artificial trans fats (like partially hydrogenated oils) to help foods taste better and stay fresher longer. But artificial trans fats are REALLY bad for you—in fact the FDA no longer recognizes trans fats that come from partially hydrogenated oils as GRAS (generally recognized as safe). Companies are now required to remove these from their products.
Trans fats can cause weight gain, sluggishness, and even depression. They are often found in pizza dough, cookies, cakes, crackers and fried foods. Check your labels before eating these foods as these fats are not the kind your body craves for optimal health.
TIP! When we are tired, especially when we’ve been working our brains all day, we crave a snack to re-energize us. Often we grab donuts, candy bars, energy drinks or other sugar rich processed foods. Try a mix of fats and grains instead: avocado on whole grain toast, a Kind bar, peanut butter on apples, yogurt with flaxseeds and almonds, hummus on whole wheat pita chips…
What do you consider to be a “fattening” food? Do you worry about consuming too much fat?
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