Choosing Healthy Fats & Why It Matters
Over the years, fat has earned a bad wrap with low-fat diet plans and idea that “fat makes you fat.”
But, the truth is, healthy fats are essential for heart health, overall energy, hormone balance, healthy skin, hair & nails, and cell growth. By adding healthy fat into your diet, you can speed up your metabolism and suppress your appetite aiding in weight loss efforts.
HEALTHY FAT V. TRANS FAT
You want to look for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from whole, unprocessed sources like nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, healthy vegetable oils, and fish. These fats help lower bad cholesterol (LDL), while raising the good (HDL).
Omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, also known as EFA’s, are important to a healthy diet because our body doesn’t produce them on its own. They help control blood clotting and fight inflammation among other benefits. Great sources of these are walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, omega-3 eggs, and fatty fish.
In general, wise to limit saturated fats from animal sources like fatty meats, cheese, and dairy as these can raise bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and increase risk for heart problems. We would like to call out an exception to saturated fats – that is, coconut oil.
While coconut oil is a saturated fat (of which is largely made of lauric acid) and can impact LDL levels, it also raises good (HDL) cholesterol levels. When consumed in moderation, coconut oil is a perfect addition for smoothies as a healthy fat (or for use in light cooking, as a skin moisturizer, hair mask – think of it as the apple cider vinegar of oils) and boasts antibacterial and antifungal properties that support a healthy gut.
The biggest source of fat to steer clear of is trans fat found in partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fat can be found in highly processed foods (think margarine and packaged foods) and is linked to heart disease, memory loss, and diseases of the metabolism. Read labels when buying packaged foods to avoid and limit consumption harmful fats.
CHOOSING HEALTHY FATS
A wonderful way of incorporating healthy fats into your daily life is by adding 1-2 tablespoons into your smoothies (like this Energizing Breakfast Matcha Smoothie).
Smoothies are easy and delicious ways to enhance your overall nutrition whether you are looking to up your intake of greens, include more superfoods in your routine or simply maintain a balanced diet. And when choosing healthy fats, the key is looking for ones that will boost both the flavor and nutritional content!
Some of our favorite healthy fats for smoothies include:
- AVOCADO: Avocados are wonderful for protecting the skin and boosting collagen (talk about getting your youthful glow back!). They also stabilize blood sugar and raise good cholesterol, all while lending extra creaminess to you smoothie.
- COCONUT OIL: Coconut oil is a particularly nice smoothie add-in because it’s a source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are very easily digested. These fatty acids metabolize in the liver and send a signal to your brain to burn fat as an energy source, increasing your energy and working as an appetite suppressant.
- NUTS/NUT BUTTER: Nuts are monounsaturated fats that promote good cholesterol, while also providing fiber and a good amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals Try throwing a small handful of walnuts, cashews, or almonds into your green smoothie, or raw nut butter to add a creamy, sugar-stabilizing effect.
- SEEDS/SEED BUTTER: Seeds are another source of protein and monounsaturated fats. Try adding ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, or hemp seeds for a boost in anti-inflammatory, omega-3 fatty acids supporting brain development, regularity, and cell hydration.
Choosing healthy fats doesn’t have to be a bore! Luckily, most raw, whole food sources of fat are delicious, so boost heart health and support weight loss by adding healthy fats into your diet!