It seems intuitive—if you eat a lot of fat, you’ll get fat. That’s what we’ve been told, right? Wrong. The truth is, fat is not making us fat. Sugar is what’s making us fat. This includes processed, refined grains and white flour products, which are metabolically just as harmful as consuming white sugar by the spoonful (more on the dangers of sugar here).
Fats, on the other hand, are essential to human health, and if you’re looking to feel better and lose weight—yes, even lose weight—then healthy fats should become a staple in your diet.
The role that fat plays in health:
- Support brain health
- Increase metabolism
- Control blood sugar and curb hunger
- Protect against cancer and diabetes
- Improve skin, nails, and hair
Some key healthy fats to emphasize in your diet:
- Coconut and coconut products (coconut oil, coconut butter, etc.)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Dry roasted, unsalted or sprouted nuts (Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews)
- Seeds (chia, flax, pumpkin, sesame, hemp)
- Pastured, organic eggs
- Grass-fed, organic beef
- Fatty fish (wild caught salmon, mackerel, sardines)
- Fish oil supplements have been shown to improve mood-related disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well as prevent brain-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. In fact, one study noted how “those who consumed fish were 60% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who rarely or never ate fish” (see my white paper on fish oil).
It’s important to remember that not all fats are created equal. Some fats are harmful, particularly trans fats and inflammatory vegetable oils (think hydrogenated oils found in many packaged foods). Opt for getting fats from whole foods (foods with only one ingredient) to be sure you’re getting the highest quality fuel for your body—and of course, choose organic and local whenever possible to minimize pesticide exposure and avoid GMOs.
Hyman, Mark. “Separating Fat from Fiction: 10 Fat Facts You Need to Know.” Dr. Hyman. Hyman Digital, n.d. Web. 3 Aug. 2016.
by Claire Stark
Claire is an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a minor in medical anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a certified yoga instructor at the 200-hour level registered with Yoga Alliance. Working towards a career in acupuncture and holistic health, Claire is passionate about a mind-body-spirit approach to healing in order to help people achieve long-lasting, sustainable wellness in all facets of life.