I used to eat butter straight off the spoon. As a treat growing up my parents used to buy real butter for dinner parties. Usually we ate margarine, because of course butter at that time was perceived to be unhealthy. But for those special occasions we had butter. And as a child I loved butter so much I used to sneak whole chunks of butter! Oh it was so so good, and I got in so so much trouble for it. It was considered gross and unhealthy and over the years I came to be conditioned to believe what society told me and agreed that fat must indeed be bad.
Flash forward to my mid-twenties and I was living as a raw food vegan. High and mighty I was eating the healthiest food around; mostly vegetables and fruits, and some nuts and seeds. Sometimes I would go on an avocado kick and coconuts were pretty pricey so they were a rare. Needless to say I did not have a wide variety of fat in my diet. My diet was not very balanced and I was not very balanced. My food sensitivities were getting worse, my hormones were coming out of balance, my energy levels wildly fluctuated, and could not keep on muscle mass or fat. I was emaciated, tired, and deficient. One day I woke up and all of my joints ached. I was inflamed. I couldn’t make a fist. And the scary thing was nothing I did was helping. Not homeopathy, not hydro-therapy, not yoga, not avoiding gluten, dairy or even the nightshades.
This was a dire situation and it allowed me to finally wake up to the message my body was sending me. After avoiding this all-important nutrient for over 20 years my body had had enough. It was screaming please eat some fat! I went for the good stuff. I reconnected to my love for butter. And oh, it tasted so so good! Just as good as I remembered. It opened the floodgates of my body’s need for fats and I even drank some homemade organic chicken broth! And guess what? The pain started to go away. And freedom came to my joints like the freedom that had come into my diet.
Fat is what was regulating my inflammation, hormones, energy, protein absorption and immune system. I let go of what society had brainwashed me to believe and listened to mybody’s inner wisdom.
What are Fats?
Let me be a Microbiologist for this paragraph. Fats, or Lipids, are organic substances that are not soluble in water. They are chains of Carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached. Three of these chains hook onto a glycerol molecule and create a triglyceride. This is the form of most fat in our body and food.
And enough of the boring sciency stuff.
What does fat actually do?
Fat has many crucial roles in the body. Primarily fats are our long distance running type of energy source. Fats give us the ability to sustain energy levels throughout the day without the dependence on sugar or caffeine boosts.
Fats make up the membrane of every single cell in our body and our brain is 60% fat.
Saturated fats protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins, insulate and protect our organs, regulate body temperature and enhance the immune system.
The polyunsaturated fatty acids are the building blocks to hormones and prostaglandins, which control inflammation.
Fats are found primarily in meats, dairy, nuts, and seeds, although most foods contain at least a small amount of fat.
Vegetarian Sources of fat: Coconut oil, Olives, Avocados and Nuts & seeds.
Animal Sources of fat:Fish and seafood, organic meat, whole dairy products and butter.
The Essential Fats: Omega-3 & Omega-6 in Flax, Hemp and Fish.
Why do I need to eat fat?
Because they are essential! Essential fats are those that are required in our diet. That means our bodies cannot make them. The essential fats are the Polyunsaturated Omega 3’s and 6’s. The
re are other conditionally essential fats like lauric acid found in Coconut Oil. Conditionally essential means our body can make them from other molecules, but it can take a load off our processing requirements if we just eat coconuts!
Many of the nutrients in vegetables cannot be absorbed without fat and protein cannot be assimilated properly without fat. In fact saturated fats are even needed for the proper utilization of those brain boosting Omega 3’s. Calcium can only be absorbed efficiently into bones with the help of saturated fats.
Fats help us feel full faster so we eat less food. The less fat we eat the hungrier we are since we are eating food that is a lower energy source. For this reason a diet with an adequate amount of fat can reduce cravings for sweets (quick energy sources).
Quality of Fats.
Saturated fats are stable at high temperatures and in the presence of oxygen, or light. Fats such as butter, ghee or coconut oil are ideal for high temperature cooking. Mono-unsaturates like Olive oil and Grapeseed oil are good for low temperature cooking.
Unsaturated fats are very delicate and require minimal processing. Upon exposure to heat, light, or oxygen these fats can become oxidized and harmful in the body. When shopping for vegetable or nut/seed based oils ensure the label specifies, “COLD PRESSED, UNREFINED and UNFILTERED”. If these labels are missing, it can be assumed that the oil was processed and damaged. Stored these oils in the fridge.
And in case you are still stuck on thinking fat is bad:
Elevated triglyceride levels in the blood have been linked to heart disease. This is true. But to consume this excess amount of fat is very difficult due to its satiating effect. Fat makes you feel the “I’m full” signal! The secret culprit here is excess Sugar. I’m talking white flour, white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and even agave! The body has a limit to how much sugar it can use. And when its limit is reached, the liver just converts the excess into fat.
Unfortunately this poor reputation of fat has led people to cut fat out of their diet, resulting in higher consumption of carbohydrates. And guess what. Heart disease rates are still rising…interesting.
Another fun piece of information: An evaluation of fats in clogged arteries found that only 26% are saturated, the rest are damaged unsaturated fats.
So eat and enjoy fats from their natural sources. Nuts, seeds, avocados, coconuts, organic dairy and meats in moderation are whole natural healthy sources of fat and deliciously scrumptious! Kick the packaged, boxed, bagged, refined, processed stuff to the curb.