The Benefits of Fats, by Amanda Gilles, RD.
It’s time to put an end to the fat is evil myth. In the past decade, fat has been blamed for a lot of things including obesity, elevating cholesterol levels, and increasing risk for cardiovascular disease. However I am here to tell you this is not true!
Consuming fat does not make us fat. Dietary cholesterol does not cause elevated cholesterol levels. Saturated fat does not correlate to heart disease. We’ve had it wrong all along!
The low fat diet craze was the icing on the cake…literally. In a low-fat product, the fat is replaced with sugars to create a similar taste and texture. Replacing dietary fat with carbohydrates (sugar) actually worsens the HDL/LDL ratio. Diets high in carbohydrates are linked to many health concerns. Continually consuming sugar is like putting your body on a wild roller coaster.When we consume sugar, our blood sugar spikes. Soon after, our blood sugar dips and crashes. These peaks and valleys create metabolic chaos and inflammation within the body. Excessive carbohydrate/sugar intake is the real villain behind elevated blood triglycerides, weight gain, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Fats are also a superior nutrient to stay optimally fueled. The key considerations when consuming fats is to focus on THE TYPE of fat you are consuming, while STAYING WITHIN YOUR CALORIE RANGE for the day. Stay away from Trans Fats. Consume saturated fats in moderation. Indulge in the Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as often as possible, to reap the benefits below:
Good Energy Source:
Gram for gram, fat contains the most energy. Each gram of fat contains 9 calories of energy, compared with only four per gram of carbohydrate and protein. This equals slow and steady fuel; exactly what is needed to provide consistent and stable energy throughout the day. Say goodbye to those mid-afternoon dips in energy. Healthy fats in meals and snacks can help with appetite regulation by preventing over-eating and reducing cravings.
Fats are the bricks and mortar of our cell membranes. The membrane that surrounds each cell is largely composed of fat. Without this healthy cell well, the rest of the cell could not function.
Omega-3 fatty acids are our heart’s best friend. Omega 3s’ have the ability to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and raise good (HDL) cholesterol. These polyunsaturated fats are also known to reduce blood pressure, atherosclerosis and help prevent heart disease.
Promotes Healthy Brain Function:
Did you know…our brain is 70% fat?! Clearly fat plays a crucial role in brain health and cognitive function. Fat provides the structural component in cell membranes, as well as the myelin sheath. The myelin is a fatty sheath that insulates each nerve, and enables messages to be carried faster. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficially for brain health. They can reduce inflammation, and improve mood, memory and cognition.
Helps the Body Use Utilize Vitamins:
The vitamins A, D, E, and K are the fat soluble vitamins. When we consume fat, we can more efficiently absorb and utilize these vitamins. When we become deficient in these nutrients we will see a decline in mood, energy, and metabolic function.
Essential for Making Hormones:
Our hormones are constantly doing a finely synchronized dance with each other. When they are in-step with each other we look, feel, and perform at our very best. When they fall out of balance, it can be a task that takes months, or even years, to realign! Ensuring you have a diet plentiful in healthy fats well help keep these hormones regulated and functioning efficiently.
Soft, voluptuous skin your goal? Make sure you are including fats, especially omega-3s into your daily diet regime. When we become deficient, skin can become dull, dry, and flaky. Load up on the salmon, walnuts, and chia seeds for glowing skin!
My favorite sources of healthy unsaturated fats are: nut butters! Not only do they provide healthy fats, they also include protein, fiber, and many different vitamins, minerals and nutrients to keep us feeling good! Let’s take a look at a variety of different nut butters and their benefits:
Almonds Nutrients: Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin E, Potassium, Niacin.
Benefits: Bone health; antioxidants; healthy skin and nervous system; metabolism of carbohydrate & protein; aids in neuromuscular contractions.Walnuts Nutrients: Omega 3s, L-arginine, Antioxidants, Vitamin E, Melatonin.
Benefits: Antioxidants; promotes sleep; anti-inflammatory; joint health; brain function; cardiovascular support; vasodilator.Cashews Nutrients: Copper, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Iron, Vitamin K.
Benefits: Collagen formation; wound healing; energy metabolism; immune function; normal blood clotting; healthy skin and nervous system.Sunflower Seeds Nutrients: Vitamin E, Thiamin, Copper, Manganese, Selenium.
Benefits: Maintains healthy nervous system; antioxidants.Peanuts Nutrients: Vitamin E, Niacin, Folate, Zinc, Selenium, Plant Sterols.
Benefits: Healthy skin and nervous system; new red blood cell formation; antioxidant; energy metabolism; immune function and wound healing; lowers cholesterol.
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