Welcome to Healthy Challenge: Week 5!
Many of us our scared to eat fats. The medical establishment used to tell us that all fat was bad, and recommended a “low-fat” diet for optimal health and weight loss. Only recently are we discovering that not all fats are equal. In fact, certain healthy fats are actually vital to our health. Without these fats, our bodies simply cannot function optimally.
WHY YOU NEED HEALTHY FAT IN YOUR DIET
- A Healthy Brain: The brain is made up of fats and cholesterol, mainly saturated fat. A diet low in fat deprives the brain of the tools it needs for function and repair.
- Satiety (feeling full): Eating a diet rich in healthy fats slows down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. When these fats take the place of high amounts of carbohydrates, our insulin and leptin levels become stable, which reduces hunger and cravings.
- Healthy Bones: Fat is necessary for calcium absorption, and therefore for strong and healthy bones.
- Liver Function: The liver is important for your metabolism, nutrient absorption and detoxification, and fat is important for its proper functioning.
- Messengers: Healthy fats function directly as signaling messengers that influence our metabolism, including such important jobs as the release of insulin.
- Immune System Function: Not enough fat in your diet means your white blood cells can’t recognize and destroy viruses and bacteria.
WHAT ARE HEALTHY FATS?
Some great sources of healthy fats include:
- Olives and olive oil: promotes heart health, protects your cells from damage, and helps improve memory and brain function. It is also anti-inflammatory. Be sure to buy a good-quality extra virgin olive oil. And don’t cook at high temperatures with olive oil, as heating it to over 350F (180C) can damage the beneficial phenols in olive oil (light sautéing is ok inshAllah).
- Natural butter (preferably raw, grass-fed, organic…NOT margarine or fake butter): butter is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fatty acids. Studies are now showing that eating more saturated fats (found in meats, cheese, and butter) is not associated with heart disease, as previously thought. (see here, and here, and here)
- Avocado: an amazing fruit with so many benefits. Avocados raise your good cholesterol while lowering the bad, boost immunity and keep skin looking young, and are full of protein and folate (great for pregnant women).
- Coconut oil: also has a long list of benefits, including improving brain and memory function, promoting heart health, and acting as an anti-inflammatory (which can ease arthritis and other inflammatory conditions). Coconut oil is also great for the skin and hair.
- Eggs: preferably free-range and pastured
- Nuts: not cooked in vegetable oils! Preferably soaked or sprouted.
- Meats and Fish: preferably grass-fed beef and pastured chicken.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These beneficial compounds can reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, and help those with depression. They can also reduce the risk of some types of cancer and improve brain function. Natural sources include seafood, nuts (especially walnuts), seeds (chia and flax), and green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, and Brussel sprouts).
For this week’s challenge, I’d like you to:
- Take a moment to reflect on your diet- are you eating a good variety of healthy fats? If not, think about how you can incorporate more healthy fats into your diet. For example:
- cooking with butter, ghee, or coconut oil
- drizzling your salad with olive oil
- adding avocado to your diet in smoothies, or with this Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad, Avocado Dressing, or Chocolate Avocado Mousse
- snacking on nuts or seeds
- replacing sugar-laden breakfast cereal with eggs cooked in coconut oil or ghee, yogurt with walnuts, or a smoothie with avocado.
- If you are using unhealthy oils (such as vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil, sunflower oil) read this short article about why these oils are damaging to our health. Try to replace these oils with natural fats, such as butter, ghee, coconut oil, and olive oil.
That’s it for today! Please leave any comments or questions below and have a wonderful week!