Macro Basics: Fats

Do not be afraid of fat in the diet.  

Yes, there are good and bad fats, but with that being said, there has been extensive research into this macro nutrient and plenty of conflicting information too.  I aim to simplify things a bit for you here and provide you with some fundamental understanding to start with, including some sources of good fats for you to incorporate in your life.

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The role of fat in your diet is crucial for achieving a well-balanced diet for good health.  Fats aid in nutrient absorption (particularly fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K), provide an energy source for your body, while also playing a crucial role in brain and hormone health among other things. Additionally, healthy fats have been associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular issues, supporting blood sugar regulation, and more.

As with any nutrient, moderation and mindful consumption are key to enjoying the extensive benefits of a nutritious diet.  The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for fats varies based on individual factors. A general guideline is that fats should constitute 20% to 35% of total daily caloric intake.

Healthier sources:

Fact: Fats provide 9 calories per gram.

  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
    • Cold-pressed and rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, extra virgin olive oil is a cornerstone of the well-known Mediterranean diet. It not only enhances flavors but has been associated with heart health, reducing inflammation, and supporting cognitive function. 
      Tip: Make your own salad dressings and hummus with this as a base.
  2. Avocado Oil:
    • Packed with monounsaturated fats and contains vitamin E, an antioxidant that supports skin health. It has a higher smoke point for cooking and mild to almost no flavor conflicts.
  3. Coconut Oil:
    • While high in saturated fats, coconut oil boasts medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), known for their quick conversion into energy. Studies suggest that MCTs may aid in weight management and provide a rapid source of fuel for the brain. Opt for Extra Virgin as well here when possible.
  4. Butter:
    • Butter, especially from grass-fed cows, contains saturated fats and fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, and E. These vitamins are essential for immune function, bone health, and overall well-being.
  5. Ghee:
    • Ghee, a clarified form of butter, not only offers a high smoke point for cooking but also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been linked to potential health benefits, including weight management and anti-inflammatory properties.  It has a slightly nutty flavor that reminds me of movie popcorn.
  6. Whole Foods:
    Perhaps the best source is always in whole food form because it contains many other vital nutrients for you to use as well.  Examples are nuts, seeds, salmon and other fish, olives, avocado, cheese, coconut, and eggs.

By incorporating these healthier fat options like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, butter, and ghee, we not only elevate the flavors of our meals but also nourish our bodies with essential nutrients. From promoting heart health and supporting cognitive function to aiding in weight management, these fats play a crucial role in our overall well-being. Enjoy the benefits with mindfulness, recognizing that a balanced and varied diet, in which healthy fats have their place, contributes to a lifestyle of vitality and longevity.

Interesting article on some Myths being debunked around fats.

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