A balanced diet is likely the cornerstone of health and in that balance is the essential need to consume fat and the right kinds of fats. For the health and weight conscious, fats may get shunned however without them in your diet you’re likely preventing optimal wellness. Here’s why.
- weight management
- controlling inflammation
- balancing hormones
- energy production
- vitamin absorption
- healthy skin and nails
- brain function and brain heath
When fats are consumed they help to tell the brain that you are satiated which is like a check mark that you’ve eaten enough. This can lead to better meal proportions. Sometimes never feeling satisfied while still being full can be a sign you need to incorporate more fat into your meal.
The right kind of fats help to control inflammation which is a major trigger for many illnesses including cardiovascular disease, arthritis and even cancer. Inflammation is created in part from fat so having the right anti-inflammatory based fats is a great thing for health and disease prevention.
Hormones are created from fats, it’s one of their important building blocks. Compromising this foundation of hormone health can lead to imbalances in hormones that can affect mood, digestion, libido and energy.
Energy. Fats are a great source of long lasting energy. Being able to utilize fats and fats storage can promote a more balanced level of energy throughout the day. This is important for overall health and hormone balance.
Some vitamins are fat soluble, meaning they need fat to be absorbed and utilized. Such vitamins are Vitamin A,D,E,K. Vitamin deficiency in frank or subtle terms can impact health with respect to negatively impacting: immune function, calcium absorption, blood clotting, mood and skin health.
Fats are needed to maintain the integrity of the skin, as are some of the fat soluble vitamins. Fats (from the inside) also help to give skin that smooth unwrinkled appearance.
About 60% of the brain that is not water, is fat. To develop it and maintain it, fats are crucial.
Balance fat in your diet and balance the type of fat in your diet
Sound confusing? It doesn’t have to be. You can skip right to the quick fat reference guide if you don’t want the details, which are: fats break down into fatty acids, your body uses these fatty acids for aforementioned tasks. Three types of fatty acids require balance for health. They are Omega 6, Arachadonic Acid (AA) and Omega 3.
Most common in vegetable oils (safflower, soy, corn); supplemented through borage oil, black currant seed & primrose. This fatty acid is needed for anti-inflammatory purposes and hormone balance but if you are deficient in many vitamins and minerals, these fatty acids may get converted to pro-inflammatory fats.
Arachidonic acid (AA)
Often given a bad name as they promote inflammation, however inflammation is an important process and it also helps to repair the brain. AA’s are commonly made from dairy, eggs,meat and shellfish.
Mostly in fish, still found within walnuts and flaxseed; considered anti-inflammatory, great for brain and cardiovascular health.
It is suggested that an easy way to balance the required consumption of these fatty acids is to make sure that at you are eating equal amounts from all of the sources throughout the day. This of course, in conjunction to an overall healthy meal choice, exercise and fantastic stress management techniques, but lets not digress.
Quick guide on balancing fats:
- Use coconut oil when frying. (or try 1tsp – 1Tbsp raw in your smoothie) (found at Naturmend)
- Use extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) raw on your salads, rice, veggies
- Consume avocados in your diet
- Consume raw nuts and seeds in your diet (especially almonds, walnuts)
- Eat your fish oils! (NutraSea is my favourite http://www.ascentahealth.com)
Enjoy your fats and make sure they are apart of your meal plan! Check out my recipe for an easy fish dinner “go fish for heart health!” and look forward to my next juicy balanced fat breakfast recipe coming soon.
Be well & eat well!
Dr. Sarah Kent blends traditional knowledge with current scientiﬁc understanding to generate wellness within her patients. She has received specialized training in naturopathic sports medicine, applying the principles and tools of naturopathic care in treating athletes. With these skills she’s helped patients improve their sport performance, rehabilitate & prevent injury.
- Prousky, J. ND. Principles and Practice of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition. 2008. CCNM Press; Toronto.
- Rouchotas, P. Clinical Nutrition, 3rd Year. CCNM. Class Notes. 2011. CCNM: Toronto.
- Maffatone, Phil MD. The Big Book of Health and Fitness. Skyhorse Publishing; Delaware USA. 2012