Despite common perception, fats are actually essential to a well-balanced diet and aid in the absorption of important fat-soluble vitamins to contribute to our overall well-being.
Take it from the new generation of Millennials and Gen Z’s that have a fresh opinion on fats. According to recent research, they view most types of fats not only as permissible, but as offering positive health benefits. This generation has not been influenced by the low-fat crazes of the 1990s and 2000s, so they do not have the negative perceptions associated with fat consumption. Instead, they are able to readily embrace and seek out specific plant-based and animal-based fats for their health benefits, including avocados, olive oil, eggs, butter, coconuts and omega-3 rich fish such as salmon.
Millennials are looking for products that contain minimally processed fats and oils that are free of GMOs as well as organic. Descriptions that indicate naturalness and less processing, such as “raw,” “virgin,” “extra-virgin,” “unrefined,” “expeller-pressed,” and “cold-pressed” are preferred rather than “hydrogenated,” “refined,” “fractionated” and “solvent extracted.” For example, when it comes to dairy products, the natural, full-fat versions of butter, milk and cheese are more likely to be sought out because they are more natural and less processed.
Essential Fat Facts
An optimal healthy diet must include foods containing essential fatty acids (EFAs) because our bodies do not produce them naturally. Essential fatty acids and their derivatives fall into the unsaturated fat category. Among other things, EFAs are necessary for hemoglobin production, circulation, cell membrane and immune function and brain development.
Alpha-linolenic acid, otherwise known as omega-3 essential fatty acid, has been shown to lower blood triglycerides and protect good cholesterol, which carries bad cholesterol out of the body. It also slows blood clot formation and controls blood pressure. The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold water fish and flax seed.
Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, or linoleic acid, is found in nuts and oils from nuts, beans and seeds. A lack of omega-6s can impact behavior, fertility and slow wound healing. The proper dietary ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s is two to one, but the modern diet typically provides the opposite. We need to find more ways to increase our consumption of these good essential fatty acids.
Fats to Avoid
It is important to keep in mind that not all fats are created equal. Trans fats are born of oil-hardening hydrogenation, but can also be found in oils that have been partially hydrogenated. These may include corn, safflower, canola, and soybean oils. These fats are the worst kind to consume—they raise “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lower “good” (HDL) cholesterol.
Although trans fats were commonly used until recently in many processed baked foods such as crackers, cookies, and cakes as well as fried foods such as doughnuts and french fries, most manufacturers have replaced these harmful fats in their products.
Resurgence of Saturated Fat
For many years saturated fat has been considered a bad fat. Its consumption supposedly led to clogged arteries and cardiovascular disease. However, saturated fat performs a variety of useful functions in the body, and new studies show that it may have been falsely accused.
In the late 1970s, the consumption of saturated fat was directly linked to the epidemic of heart disease sweeping the Western Hemisphere. This sentiment led to decades of backlash. Over the past 30 years, the negative image of saturated fat has undergone a slow evolution, gradually returning it from banishment to the plates of many health-conscious individuals. The reasons for this reversal are complex and may go so far as to question the belief that cholesterol is a cause of heart disease.
Saturated fat is essential to normal human functioning. Saturated fats may influence gene expression and cancer prevention, help regulate hormones, and form the building blocks of cell membranes throughout the body. Dietary sources include animal products such as red meat, poultry, dairy products, as well as processed foods, and plant-based sources such as coconut.
What are the best sources of saturated fats?
Unprocessed, unrefined foods are the best sources of saturated fat, as they provide a host of vitamins, minerals, and other fats in the bargain.
Raw, unrefined coconut oil
Find a source that is free of chemical solvents and boasts a natural coconut smell and taste.
Along with a lower total fat content, grass-fed beef may contain more anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids than its grain-fed counterparts.
Organic dairy products
Dairy products, including butter, milk, yogurt, and cheese, may be protective against heart disease, despite previous advice to the contrary.
Why is Butter Good For You?
Saturated fat has never been proven to cause heart disease. Trans fat and polyunsaturated fats have. Butter protects against cancer compared to vegetable oil. The fat soluble vitamins in butter protect against heart disease, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, and degenerative disease. In addition, the Vitamin K2 (in butter) protects against atherosclerosis and heart attacks.
Butyrate is butter’s secret ingredient that makes you bulletproof. Butyrate is a short chain of saturated fatty acid. In humans, it is an
Not All Butter is Created Equal
Grass-fed butter is higher in omega-3s, CLA, beta-carotene, Vitamin A, K, E and antioxidants. Grass-fed butter tastes better (especially in coffee).
5 Ways to Get More
Healthy Fats into Your Diet
- Eat and drink full fat dairy – study after study has shown that high fat dairy lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke. So don’t be afraid of it.
- Eat Eggs – with the yolks – eggs are the most nutrient-dense foods you can buy. Eggs are rich in protein – having all eight essential amino acids.
- Spread the butter – grass-fed butter in particular!
- Ditch the non-stick cookware and use fat – opt for traditional cookware made of cast iron or steel to keep your food from sticking or over cooking.
- Cook your vegetables in fat – roast your vegetables in a coating of olive oil or coconut oil. Pan-fry potatoes in a healthy fat like beef tallow from grass-fed cows. Melt butter from pasteurized cows or pour bacon grease over your steamed veggies.
Healthy Coffee Recipe
A delicious and creamy coffee that packs a powerful nutritional punch!
- 1 cup of organic coffee, herbal coffee or chai tea
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil (or more, I usually put in 2-3 tablespoons)
- 1 Tablespoon organic grass-fed unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- a few drops of stevia extract (optional)
Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Mix on high speed for 20 seconds until frothy. Drink immediately and enjoy all the energy!