For many years, dietary fat has been overly vilified and unfairly blamed for many diseases. Saturated fats were long believed to be a primary cause of heart disease, but current research and population studies are now proving this to be false.
Yep, that’s right folks. Saturated fats are no longer believed to cause heart disease. Previous recommendations to consume a low fat diet had serious flaws, and in fact, seemed to actually promote disease. Fat was also seen as the primary culprit in weight gain, even though we now know that a high-fat diet can actually promote weight loss.
While it’s true that fat is does have a greater calorie density, at 9 calories per gram of fat, (which is more than double the calories of protein and carbohydrates), it’s important to look beyond the calories and examine some of the many benefits of healthy fats.
Here are just some of the amazing health benefits we reap when we add healthy fats to our meals.
Prevent Hunger And Balance Blood Sugar
It takes much longer for fat to digest than non-fat foods, so including healthy fats in your diet will help keep you feeling satisfied for a longer period of time. Because fats help to slow down digestion, they help to decrease the glycemic load of meals and balance blood sugar, which in turn balances insulin. The presence of insulin helps to send a message to your brain signalling that you’re full. Consuming foods that keep blood sugar and insulin balanced help curb future cravings and hunger as well. Keeping insulin and blood sugar balanced also reduce your risks for insulin resistance and diabetes.
When it comes to eating a healthy diet, choose foods that are chockfull in healthy fats over processed sugars, every time. It’s now known that sugar, not fat, is the primary cause of obesity and heart disease.
Your body has two preferred fuel sources: Fats and carbohydrates. Fats pack a fuel energy punch. One gram of fat provides nine calories of energy. This fact is part of the reason many people trying to lose weight avoid higher fat foods. But because the presence of fat in a meal increases satiety and manages blood sugar, most people will actually consume fewer overall calories when they include healthy fat in their meals. If you’re an endurance athlete, consider the fact that we only have about 1,200 calories of stored carbohydrates available to you during an event or training and about 80,000 calories of stored body fat available for fuel. Tapping into that fuel supply and training your body to utilize more fat as a fuel is an important option to explore.
Help With Nutrient Absorption
The presence of fat in your digestive tract improves the absorption of many nutrients. Disease fighting vitamins A,D,E, and K all benefit from the presence of fat. This is why people who consume extremely low fat diets often find themselves vitamin deficient.
Support Brain Health And Function
Your brain is predominantly made from fat and cholesterol. Not getting enough healthy fats in your diet robs your brain of the necessary building blocks it needs to function properly. Having enough of the essential fatty acids found in fatty fish, EPA and DHA in your diet will also help prevent mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Fight Inflammation And Prevent Disease
When we think of inflammation we often think of a swollen joint after injury. But our bodies can be living in a state of chronic persistent inflammation. This inflammatory state increases your risks for many different diseases. Our understanding of this kind of inflammation is still developing, but to date we can link chronic inflammation to heart disease, many types of cancer, autoimmune disease, neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimers and Parkinson’s, as well as mood disorders, including depression. Regularly including healthy fats in your diet is thought to help reduce chronic inflammation.
Sources Of Healthy Fats
To help you start adding some of these health supporting disease fighting healthy fats into your diet here is a list of some of the sources that I personally rely on and recommend to my clients. Coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, grape seed oil, avocado oil, and organic butter or ghee are excellent sources of healthy fats to add to your diet. Also recommended are nuts and seeds, avocado, grass-feed organic meats, free-range eggs, olives, wild salmon and organic raw milk cheese.