Tag Archives: healthy fats

Don’t Be Afraid of Fat

Don’t be afraid to include some high fat foods in your diet for better health. Back in the 1980s, fat became the villain that we needed to avoid for heart health and weight loss. Unfortunately, most low fat products ended up being high in sugar or strange artificial ingredients that might do us more harm than the original fat. We also didn’t understand the health benefits we could gain from good fats such as the anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fats from fish or flax.

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The concern about eating fats is that they are more calorie dense than proteins and carbohydrates. From this viewpoint, cutting out fat cuts down on calories and watching calories can help us maintain a healthy weight. But eating foods that have fat in them may help us feel more full and satisfied, which can help us avoid excess snacking. While if we ate a low fat product that was high in sugar, the possible blood sugar and energy crash later could make us want to eat more.

What are the possible health benefits of having healthy fat sources in your diet? Healthy fats can be important for our brain health. I think of the brain as being a complex series of “wires” that conduct electrical impulse. The insulation that surrounds those “wires” is made from fat, therefore our brains need fats to function properly. Certain fats can also be important fuels for our brain cells.

Choosing healthy fats, particularly sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, can reduce inflammation in the body and even protect us from heart disease. Some traditions recommend higher fat consumption to help with allergy and sinus issues. This is possibly related to inflammation reduction and/or adequate moisturization of the sinus passages. Likewise, healthy fats can be vital for healthy skin. I also look for adequate fat intake when trying to find underlying causes of constipation. Sufficient water, fiber and fat consumption can be important for proper bowel health.

Even saturated fats aren’t the offenders we once thought. For years, we were told that saturated fat from meat and dairy products contributed to heart disease. Now even more conservative groups are starting to question this connection, citing a recent study that showed higher saturated fat consumption didn’t mean higher rates of heart disease when looking at large population studies. The unique saturated fats in some oils like coconut oil are even being touted for their particular weight loss and brain health benefits.

There is still one type of fat out there that we need to avoid: transfats. These are the artificially made fats that were originally produced to replace butter and other saturated fats. Now, we know that these hydrogenated fats found in shortenings and many processed foods are the worst culprits when it comes to heart health. Surprise, surprise, the unhealthy fats are the artificial ones!

Besides avoiding transfats, the most important consideration is picking fat sources that bring a lot of other additional nutrients to the table. Many processed foods that are high in fat are just junk. Think of donuts and other white flour laden deserts. Now, stop thinking about donuts, and chose instead foods like nuts, avocados, eggs, and olive oil. These healthy fats sources are also loaded with vitamins and antioxidants to help protect our health.

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Finally because high fat foods are calorie dense, we need to watch our serving sizes. For instance, a serving of nuts is generally ¼ cup, so don’t sit there and eat a whole pound.

We are all different so the amount and types of fat we need can vary, but healthy fats are now in the good foods column. So don’t run from these healthy foods due to outdated propaganda.

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Moisturize from Within

If you find yourself needing to use lots of lotion all the time, you might need to consider moisturizing from within. A current beauty trend is to consume collagen and other nutrients that nourish and hydrate hair and skin.

Skin is designed to be a natural barrier that uses oils and other compounds to hold in moisture and protect us from the environment. We also have collagen and other connective tissue molecules that help our skin, hair, and bones maintain their shape and elasticity.

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To keep hair luxurious and skin looking healthy, start with proper hydration. I find if I drink enough water, I don’t feel like I need lip balm most of the time. Another health trend is to drink bone broth, which provides water along with collagen and minerals to support the hair, skin and bones.

Collagen is also available in the form of a supplement. Type I collagen is what is found in hair, skin, and bone health, while type II collagen is available for joint support. One report I heard about collagen that particularly stood out was from a woman who said her skin was clearer after taking a collagen supplements for a month. My friends taking collagen have also noticed thicker, sleeker hair.

Finally, collagen is as important as calcium for keeping bones strong. We can also support our body’s ability to make collagen by getting adequate vitamin C and zinc.

Another important natural hydration handler in the body is hyaluronic acid, which is found throughout the body. I think of like a microscopic sponges holding water within our tissues including skin, joints, and even eyes. I am mostly referring to the inside of our eyes, but hyaluronic acid may have benefits for dry eye issues as well. One woman told me that the hyaluronic acid I recommended for her skin seems to have helped relieve her dry eye symptoms.

Don’t ever forget about increasing your healthy fat consumption when there is a skin issue, such as wintertime dry skin. Incorporate into your diet nuts, avocados, and healthy oils like olive oil. For skin, Omega-3 fatty acids from fish are a great addition, sometimes with added GLA from evening primrose oil. The same approach is useful for dry eyes, which is essentially a dry skin issue for most people. One study noted an initial reduction in dry eye related symptoms in just 12 weeks.

So give your body what it needs and be comfortable in your skin.