Let’s just get this out of the way: this isn’t true! Yes, all you peanut butter and avocado lovers out there can take a breath. The fact is not all fats are created equal, nor do they have the same effect on the body.
“Wait, but why does the fitness industry tell me to buy everything low-fat then?” you might ask. Sadly, nutrition misinformation can spread quickly. It can leave people confused and frustrated, so they opt to do the simpler thing – cut out all fats in general. However, this is not a healthy approach. It’s important to understand fats and their nutritional value. They, as much as every other macronutrient (carbs and protein) are key to creating a well-balanced diet. This nutritional focus is at the core of all of our services because it delivers results. If you’re curious as to what a healthy, well-balanced meal looks like check out our free Fran’s Kitchen Nutrition Recipe eBook!
You’ll find dishes that do include healthy fats, like those found in seeds, nuts, or avocados in this eBook. The reason for that being…
WE NEED SOME FAT
Despite what the fitness industry might say, fats are friends not foes.
They play an important part in several body processes:
- They’re a source of energy. After carbohydrates, fats are another place our bodies pull energy from.
- Fats help in the absorption of some vitamins and minerals. Vitamins K, A, D, and E, all need fat in order to be properly absorbed.
- And they regulate some critical processes like blood-clotting, inflammation, and muscle movement.
See? Don’t jump into the “low-fat” bandwagon just yet. Now, of course, not all fats are the same.
OK, but Not These Ones
Trans fat and saturated fats. You do not need these, in fact, they come with a hefty dose of health risks. Let’s start off by discussing trans fat.
I am afraid, dear friend, you can find this one in just about every fried treat you enjoy. It’s tragic, I know. This kind of fat occurs as a byproduct of hydrogenation, which basically consists of turning healthy oils into solids. This extends the shelf-life of some products, but it certainly does not extend your life-expectancy.
Eating too much trans fat has been known to increase LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), create inflammation, and overall increase your chance of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. We do not “heart” trans fat. The best course of action for this particular fat is to just avoid it as much as you can. Make sure to check your nutrition labels and scout out this particular foe.
Second in line for the baddies is Saturated fats. This is one you’ll for sure find in many products, like red meat, whole milk, whole-milk dairy foods, cheese, etc. The recommended limit for saturated fat is under 10% calories per day. Considering 1g of fat offers 9 calories – that’s really not a lot. There’s a good reason for this though. Much like trans fat, saturated fats can increase your risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
These are the fats you want to focus on including in your diet, especially by swapping out the previous two with these. Our friendly fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Thankfully, they’re rather easy to find in delicious foods like olive oil, avocados (thank goodness), and several nuts (ahem, like those in peanut butter). These fats were made popular with the “Mediterranean Diet”, because research showed that those who consume these friendly fats, instead of trans or saturated fats, experience lower risks of heart disease!
The second friendly fat is the polyunsaturated fat. Actually, they are more than friendly – they are essential! Remember when I said we needed fats? Here it is. You see, our body does not naturally produce these fats, but we need them in order to maintain proper body function.
Now, technically polyunsaturated fats can be broken down into two categories: Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids. You can find these in things like fish, nuts, seeds, and some oils. Both of them help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL (good cholesterol). Polyunsaturated fats also help build the membrane that protects your nerves, and they play an important role in blood clotting, inflammation, and muscle movement.
That’s a lot of information on what to eat and not to eat. It’s okay if you’re a little overwhelmed. Nutrition is a journey that takes time to learn and employ in your daily life. However, you can get started with small steps. Our free Fran’s Kitchen Nutrition Recipe eBook is a great way to test out what powerful nutrition looks like. You don’t have to throw away your avocados. In fact, we encourage them!
In the meantime, you can try using these two general rules to help you reduce the unhealthy fats in your diet:
- Decrease your consumption of trans and saturated fats to as low as possible. If you can avoid trans fat entirely even better. Your heart will thank you.
- Change your unhealthy fats for healthy fats. You can find these in legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, some oils, and yes – avocados.
Even small changes like these have the power to improve your health. I know firsthand how important nutrition can be in transforming your life. In 2012, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer while pregnant with my daughter. It was a severe case that left doctors with a dismal prognosis. They said there was nothing they could do. I decided to aid my treatments with radically changed nutrition in order to do what I could in my healing journey. 8 years later, I’m doing my best to help others do the same.
Starting your unique healthy journey can feel intimidating, especially if you’re not even sure where to start. That’s why I created Fran’s Kitchen. It is my passion to help people like you live the life they deserve in wellness and good health. The FK team will be here to guide you every step of the way, from the little changes to the ones that transform your life. We’re always here for you.
If you’ve already started doing small adjustments to your diet like these, feel free to let us know in the comments! How do you switch out unhealthy fats for the beneficial healthy fats?