Can you believe there was a time before avocado toast being a menu item staple? For those who remember the low-fat fad of the nineties, we now know we were doing ourselves a disservice by not enjoying the health-optimizing benefits of good fats.
Have you ever heard of fat-soluble vitamins? They include vitamin A, K, E, and D and are absorbed into your bloodstream when they are consumed with a source of fat. These vitamins support healthy eyes, proper immune function, strong bones, and are loaded with antioxidants. Without the right amount of healthy fat in our diet, we’d be missing out on all those benefits. Lucky for us, it’s as simple as adding some avocado or olive oil to your leafy greens and you’ll be all set to reap the full nutritional value of those vitamins.
Not only do fats help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, they also play a role in maintaining our proper brain development, insulating our internal organs, and supporting our hormones.
The Breakdown on Fats
Fats clearly play a pretty vital role in our health, but do we understand each type? Not all fats are created equal, so be sure to understand some of the key differences:
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs)
MUFAs are heart-healthy fats, meaning they lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) and help support the levels of your good cholesterol (HDL) in your body. Good sources of monounsaturated fats include nuts, seeds, and our beloved avocados.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs)
Within the category of PUFAs, there is an essential fatty acid we need to be aware of: omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential because the body can’t synthesize them on it’s own. And believe me, we definitely want the benefits of omega-3s:
- Reduced inflammation
- Lowered risk of cancer
- Reduced symptoms of depression
- Supported heart health
Common sources of omega-3s include salmon, tuna, mackerel, walnuts, flax seeds, eggs, and chia seeds.
Unlike unsaturated fats, saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature. Think cheeses, butter, tropical oil (palm, coconut, cocoa), and fatty meats. It’s recommended that your daily intake of saturated fats remain low as a diet too high in saturated fats can be associated with cardiovascular disease and obesity. But before you write off coconut oil completely, remember to consider the antibacterial, antifungal, and cholesterol-lowering properties it contains!
As of 2013, the FDA took trans fat off the “Generally Regarded As Safe” list due to the high associated between trans fat and heart disease, not to mention the increased risk for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), as well. This inflammatory type of fat can be found in fried foods, processed baked goods, and some frozen foods. Knowing how to read a food label can be really helpful when looking to lower our intake of trans fats. Words like “partially hydrogenated” means trans fat, so keep your eyes open to possibly misleading packaging.
Fat: Yes or No?
As our resources of health-based knowledge grows, different dietary fads come into play, and our bodies and minds are subjected to a lot of information (sometimes, overwhelmingly so). We hear we should incorporate this and get rid of that, when really, the answer is much more simple.
Fats can be consumed to reduce the risk of chronic disease, support longevity, slow down our digestion, and help us feel more satiated after a meal. And let’s remember, fats can make our food taste great, too. Choosing to prioritize the heart healthy fats and limit the not-so-beneficial options can help you achieve a balance that’s right for your body.
At DEFINE foods, we include only the freshest, most nutrient-dense ingredients in our meals because we want to fuel our bodies in a way that makes us feel vibrant. That’s why you’ll always find us munching on kale massaged with olive oil, colorful veggies, seeds, and, of course, some avocado.