9 Simple Modifications to a Healthier Diet – Including Eat More Fat!
By Jolee Patterson, Contributor – Sharing the Power of Food
Jolee and I have known each other during our days working at the same yoga studio, 12 years ago. She has always been a champion for eating right, exercising regularly and enjoying life. For the last two years I have asked her to share her knowledge of eating healthy with The Succulent Wife readers and I am very happy she finally obliged.
For over 50 years they have told us that we would be healthier if we eat a low-fat diet, stay away from saturated fats and tropical oils, and to eat margarine, not butter. They told us to eat more refined vegetable oils like canola, corn, and sunflower and eat more grains.
So, who are they anyway? Our very own USDA, the American Heart Association, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and so many more that are, unfortunately for us, politically driven and concerned lining their pockets with Giant Food Manufacturer’s money. Cynical? Maybe, but if their message was right we should be seeing it in our health. Right?
The reality is that today heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Almost 78 million Americans, over the age of 20 and more than 12 million 19 and under, were either overweight or obese in 2009 – 2010. Obesity is tied to heart disease, cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, stroke, hypertension kidney & gallbladder disease and the list goes on. In 2010, nearly 26 million people in the U.S. had diabetes and 79 million adults were at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.*
Contrary to popular belief, a fairly high percentage of (good) fat is required for optimum health.
Fat provides a longer, slower burning source of energy for our bodies. Fats are the building blocks for cell membranes and hormones. They are required for absorption of vitamins A, D, E & K and proper use of proteins. Fat slows digestion and is necessary for proper blood sugar regulation. Fats make us feel full and tell our brain that we are no longer hungry; satiety is a huge factor in weight management. And, quite frankly, fats make food taste good!
Here is a crash course on fat classifications:
Saturated fats are brought to us predominately from animal sources and tropical oils, such as palm and coconut oil. They are very stable, so are safe for cooking and do not easily go rancid. They are solid at room temperature. Saturated fats make up at least 50% of our cell membranes and are the preferred fuel of the heart. Full fat milk, yogurt, and cheese (all preferably raw); grass-fed meat, organic pasture poultry, and free-range eggs; and coconut oil and pasture butter, are all healthy sources.
Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, but more solid when cold. These fats are fairly stable so can be used for cooking but only at lower temperatures. Olive oil, avocados, almonds, pecans, cashews, and peanuts are considered monounsaturated.
Polyunsaturated fats are usually liquid and are very unstable with heat, light, or oxygen. For this reason they should never be used for cooking (sesame is an exception here). They should be refrigerated and stored in opaque bottles as they will go rancid in a clear container on the shelf. The process for extraction of canola, corn, safflower, sunflower, and cottonseed oils in and of itself makes these oils rancid and unfit for consumption. These are cheap to process so are used in a whole host of processed, packaged foods. Healthy sources of these fats are found in flax, nuts, seeds and fish.
Trans fats are labeled hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils and should be avoided at all cost! These are fake fats that wreak havoc with cell metabolism. They are made from cheap (already rancid usually genetically modified) soy, corn, canola or cottonseed oils by mixing them with tiny metal particles-usually nickel oxide. The oil with its nickel catalyst is bombarded with hydrogen gas at high temperature and pressure. These fats raise “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower “good” cholesterol (HDL). They promote weight gain, compromise hormone and immune function, metabolism, and tissue repair. Each bottle should post a warning label: POISON!
To lose weight, we need a healthy balance of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. (All fats and oils are some combination of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids)
Here are 9 simple modifications to a healthier diet:
- Make healthy fats at least 30% of your diet (40% carbohydrates, 30% protein).
- Seek out grass-fed meat and organic free-range eggs, pasture poultry, and butter.
- Eat wild, cold water fish and supplement with cod liver oil.
- Eat chia, flax, hemp seeds and walnuts and their oils.
- Drizzle cold pressed extra-virgin olive, walnut, flax, and sesame oils on salads or vegetables.
- Enjoy whole fat milk, yogurt or cheese, preferably raw.
- Use raw virgin coconut oil for cooking, in smoothies and desserts or by the spoonful. Coconut oil is easily digested as it does not need help from the liver and is a great source of lauric acid and useable energy.
- Eat whole foods as they come in nature, not boneless, skinless or defatted.
- No Hydrogenated Oils! Read labels or better yet stay away from processed foods and farm-raised fish.
The good news is – enjoy your fats!
Eat healthy fats liberally and know that these fats are necessary and in the properly balanced, nutrient dense, whole foods diet will neither make you fat nor sick. For further information on eating healthy visit Weston A Price Foundation a nutrition education foundation site.
* these statistics are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.