Good Fat vs Bad Fat, What's The Difference?

For years, health experts preached that a low-fat diet was the key to perfect health. They proclaimed fats as the enemy, linking them to cardiovascular and other diseases. The food industry jumped on this “theory” and bombarded us with fat-free and low-fat “food” options. A walk down the supermarket aisle will confirm the obsession with fat-free foods.

To ensure that flavor was not compromised, sugars were added in increasing amounts. So, while our low-fat options exploded, so did obesity rates, as well as other related illnesses. Clearly, low-fat did not deliver the promised results.

We now know that healthy fats DO NOT make us fat. In fact, they are one of the three macronutrients, along with carbohydrates and protein, that your body NEEDS to function at optimal levels. And, truth be told, fats help us stay slim!!

THE WHY...

So, why do we need fats in our diets, how much is enough, and what kind of fats should we incorporate into a balanced eating plan?

Fats provide essential fatty acids, protect your heart, keep your skin and hair soft and subtle, lubricate your joints, protect your nervous system, and protect cell membranes from inflammation. Your cell membranes are made up of lipid (fat) molecules. Fats deliver vitamins A, D, E, and K to your cells and are also are a great source of energizing fuel. So, you can see that your body really can’t function without them! One could maybe even correlate the deprivation of good fat in our diet to the multitude of diseases that are all too common these days. 

THE WHAT... 

THE BAD FATS:

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of fats. The SAD diet (Standard American Diet) consists mainly of artery-clogging trans fats. Why? Because they taste so good and are widely available in our food supply. Fats, together with sodium and sugars, enhance the flavors of foods and keep you coming back for more. It is a specific formula the food industry incorporates to keep those cravings going. 

Most of us have heard about "bad saturated fats". Usually solid at room temperature, these are found in animal products such as meat and dairy. New research, however, shows that some saturated fats, such as coconut oil, can be metabolized by the body faster than others, hence they are rarely stored as fat. New research has also shown a difference in the saturated fats in grass fed (happy cows) meat & dairy vs. factory farmed (stressed out cows). The grass fed animals actually produce good anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, where as the factory farmed products are filled with inflammatory, damaging chemicals, that are then transferred to our health. 

Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been altered through the process of hydrogenation to extend their shelf life. These should be avoided at all costs, as they are associated with heart disease and related illnesses (think: packaged cookies, pastries, muffins, candy bars, and cakes). If you see the word hydrogenated on any food label avoid it like the plague. 

Healthy unsaturated fats play a huge role in your overall health and well-being. They are either polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats and are considered good fats because they help lower inflammation and cholesterol levels, which can reduce the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and a multitude of other issues all caused by damaging inflammation. Examples of good unsaturated fats are avocado, olive oil, and almonds.

Polyunsaturated fats provide us with essential fatty acids, essential meaning we must get them from our diet as our body does not manufacture them. These fatty acids keep your brain functioning well and aid in the healthy growth and development of your body. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines, as well as flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and grass fed meat, are central to reducing inflammation and heart disease. It’s always best to get your omega-3s from food, but you can supplement if you need to.

Most people get too many omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils and margarine. Yikes! Omega-6 fatty acids are very inflammatory and damaging to our cells.

For good health and a balanced diet, it is important to get fats from both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated sources. All fats are calorie dense at 9 calories a gram, so eating a diet rich in good fats makes you feel full and keeps you feeling full longer.  

And remember, the next time you are in the supermarket and spot a fat-free or low-fat label on a food item, take that as a red flag and your cue to run as fast as you can to the fresh produce section!

As an added bonus this week I have included some delicious recipes your taste buds will thank you for. 

Almond Joys

1/3 - 1/2C raw honey, to taste

2 to 3 tbsp cocoa powder, to taste

Dash of Celtic sea salt, cinnamon, and vanilla

2 C raw coconut flakes

1 C raw, slivered almonds

Mix the first five ingredients well, then add coconut and almonds. Stir well.

Form into little balls and enjoy!

Almond Butter or Walnut Butter or Pecan Butter

1 C raw almonds, ground

¼- ½ C raw honey

Dash of Celtic sea salt, cinnamon, and vanilla

Blend in the blender until smooth.

The almonds can be replaced with walnuts, pecans, cashews, or other raw nuts.

Add cocoa powder for chocolate butter.

Add raw cacao nibs, Maca powder, and chia seeds for a superfood upgrade.

Fruit Leather

Cook homemade applesauce with apples, water, honey, and a dash of Celtic sea salt, cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla.

Dehydrate the applesauce on a sheet in a dehydrator for 12 hours.

Can use alternate fruits such as peace, grape, strawberries, etc.

Sunflower Seed Brittle

1 C raw sunflower seeds

½ C raw coconut chips

2 tbsp sesame seeds

¼ - ½ C honey

Dash of Celtic sea salt, cinnamon, and vanilla

Mix well. Bake in the oven for 20-30 min. at 250°F. Cool and enjoy!

Granola Snack Mix

4 C gluten free oats

1½ Tsp Celtic sea salt

1 tsp cinnamon

Mix these ingredients well.

¼ C coconut oil

½ - ¾ C honey

Mix together. Whisk in 1 Tsp. vanilla.

Pour liquid mixture over oat mixture. Spread in 10x15 bar pan. Bake at 300°F for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Add ½ C raisins or dried cranberries when cool.

Dehydrated Fruit & Vegetables

Wash and cut fruit. Place in a dehydrator on parchment paper at 115°F for 12 -18 hours.