Examples of Good Fats:
• Coconut oil, unsweetened full-fat coconut milk, unsweetened coconut flakes
• Olive oil, olives
• Avocado oil, avocados, guacamole
• Wild fish
• Grass-fed beef
• Grass-fed butter
Benefits of Incorporating Good Fats in Your Diet:
• Curbs overeating and calms leptin, the hormone that controls hunger
• Gives structure to our cell membranes
• Makes our steroid hormones, including testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and pregnenolone
• Burns body fat (in the absence of carbohydrates)
• Forms neurotransmitters vital for cognitive and memory function
• Helps to stabilize blood sugar
• Decreases inflammation
Fat for Fuel
The best way to burn fat is to eat fat, but only in the absence of carbohydrates. When sugar is not available to burn, the body burns fat for energy. Minimizing our dependence on glucose for fuel will optimize our brain function. Spikes in blood sugar increase insulin, leptin, inflammatory cytokines, and cortisol and deplete our neurotransmitters and nutrients.
A published meta-analysis looked at data of 1,141 obese patients eating a low carb diet and found significant decreases in body weight, body mass index, abdominal circumference, blood pressure, triglycerides, glucose, insulin and C-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation), as well as increases in HDL. 1 This study shows us that reducing our carbohydrate intake so that the body relies more on fat for energy has multiple health benefits.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
One easy way to incorporate good fats into your diet is by taking an Omega-3 supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids help with electrical and cardiovascular function, joint health, immune system, gastrointestinal system, and health of the brain and nervous system. They can reduce our risk for heart disease by lowering triglycerides, blood pressure, help prevent plaque in our arteries and reduce inflammation. Deficiencies in Omega 3s are often found in people with depression, obesity, bipolar disorder, cardiovascular disease and ADD/ADHD. Omega 3 fatty acids contain DHA, which support neurotransmitters and are vital for brain function.
Common Myths and Truths about Fat:
MYTH: Fat makes you fat.
TRUTH: As well as being a source of energy, good fats provide satiety and satisfaction. Most fats are not stored as fat. In fact, sugar is more likely the culprit in increasing body fat. Eating simple carbs turns on insulin, a fat storage hormone, which takes the fuel out of the bloodstream, causing hunger and slowing metabolism.
MYTH: Saturated fat causes high blood pressure and heart disease.
TRUTH: A review of all the research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows there is no correlation between saturated fats and heart disease. The major fatty acids in blockages are unsaturated. While lowering saturated fats in the diet may lower cholesterol, it lowers the HDL, which is the good cholesterol. When people eat less fat, they usually eat more sugar or starch which increases the LDL, the dangerous cholesterol that can lead to heart attacks.
MYTH: Cholesterol is bad.
TRUTH: Cholesterol is needed for brain development, hormone production, and protecting cell membranes. Dietary cholesterol does not increase blood cholesterol. Most of our cholesterol comes from our liver, not from our diet, so when dietary cholesterol is increased; less is synthesized in the body.
Set up a consultation with one of our nutritionists to learn how to incorporate good fats into a whole food diet in addition to making lifestyle shifts to optimize brain health, energy, sleep and overall health.