A Love Letter to Healthy Fats
A tiny three-letter word known to strike fear into the hearts of even the most nutritionally secure. If we want to trace back to the beginnings of humans’ aversion to fat, the decade to start with is the 1970s. An enormous wave of research uncovering a correlation between heart disease and fat hit mainstream media, and thus began the “baby boom of fat-free foods” as we like to call it. Fat-free duplicates of every single food you can think of were created. By the time the 1990s rolled around, fat had officially become public enemy #1.
Fast-forward to today, in case you hadn’t noticed we are living in a world where avocado toast rules the trendy food industry and coconut oil has become the solution to any hair or skin problem you might have. But how did fat go from villain to hero?
It turns out that those long lost studies of the 70s had oversimplified the problem at hand.
When looking at different types of fat we find 2 separate kinds, just like anything else in life really: there’s good and there’s bad.
Trans and saturated fats; The prior’s primary sources are commercially baked desserts like doughnuts, cakes and cookies, as well as snack foods like chips and crackers, and of course the all-reigning fried foods like French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets and battered fish. Saturated fats on the other hand are not as harmful but can still raise bad cholesterol levels, so you best be consuming them in moderation. They include ingredients like red meat, whole fat dairy including but not limited to milk, cheese and butter, and let’s not forget ice cream.
However, there has been a number of new studies claiming that saturated fat is no longer considered unhealthy, having concluded from comparing people who consume it in large quantities to some who eat it less, and seeing virtually no difference there. Nevertheless, there are ample benefits to replacing saturated fats with the right foods, but that is not saying that you can’t enjoy them in moderation. For example, if the odd hamburger brings you joy then by all means, you eat the hell out of that burger!
It’s important to know that when we consume unhealthy fats, they increase our LDL levels, also known as bad cholesterol. High levels of LDL can clog arteries and lead to cardiovascular disease. But as with any dietary fat, there is a good kind out there and it’s called HDL. It is a substance that your body needs to function properly. The key is to keep HDL levels high and LDL levels low, because low HDL can be a huge indicator of eminent cardiovascular risk.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (indeed they are a mouthful, pun intended); The prior can be found in ingredients like olives, avocados, different kinds of nuts, peanut or almond butter, and olive or sesame oil. On the other hand, good sources of the latter include different kinds of seeds like sesame, sunflower and pumpkin, as well as flax seeds, walnuts, fatty fish like salmon, sardines or tuna, and soy including all its derivatives and friends like tofu and soy milk.
These healthful varieties can help prevent and even treat heart disease and stroke, in addition to reducing blood pressure and lowering triglycerides. They are also CRITICAL for increased brain function. So take our word for it, and flood your diet with these omega-3 fats, because they are all linked to reduced signs of depression and the greater growth and evolution of your brain over time. They will boost a little something called neuroplasticity, which is the capacity of our brains to develop new patters, habits and ways of thinking.
So as we seek to evolve, leave behind old mindsets and toxicity, and approach life with renewed faith, this capability is essential. Neuroplasticity might in itself be the reason why we presented you with this love letter to healthy fats. Out with the old and in with the new: a thriving mind starts with what’s on your plate, and good fats are where it’s at.