How times have changed! Gone are the days when avoiding all dietary fats was considered part of a healthy eating plan! In fact, it has been found that many saturated fats, like coconut oil and grass-fed animal and dairy products can actually HELP you lose weight. But how does this work? What is it about these fats that is healthy for us? Are there still fats we should avoid? The answer to these questions can be found in the types of fat you are eating. Are they polyunsaturated fats or monounsaturated fats? The majority of foods you eat contain a combination of these fats and your body needs a certain amount of them for healthy functioning. But how much do you need? Let's take a closer look:
The Polyunsaturated Fats -- Omega-3 and Omega-6Your body cannot produce polyunsaturated fats so they are considered to be an essential part of your diet. The trick, however, is to eat them in the right balance. The majority of people are eating far more omega-6s than omega-3s. The average American diet contains 15 times more omega-6s than omega-3s! A healthier ratio is 2-4 omega-6s to 1 omega-3. Omega-3s help to reduce inflammation and can lower the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and arthritis. They also play a key role in memory and brain functioning. During pregnancy, omega-3s can play a positive role in brain, vision, and nerve development of the fetus. Some great sources of omega-3s include fatty fish (like salmon, halibut, herring, trout, and tuna), meat and dairy from grass-fed animals, and omega-3 enriched eggs. Excellent plant-based sources include chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds. [bctt tweet="6 Steps To Balancing Healthy Fats (And Why It Is So Important That You Do)"] There are two things worth nothing when it comes to omega-3 food sources:
- Plant sources of omega-3s are not absorbed by the body as well as the animal sources so unless you are vegan, you might want stick to meats, fish, and dairy.
- Fish can contain high levels of mercury so if you are pregnant, you might want to consider supplementing your omega-3s instead.
Monounsaturated Fat -- Omega-9Unlike the other omegas, our body is able to produce omega-9 internally. But, they are also found in food sources like olive oil, avocado, and avocado oil and have many health benefits. Omega-9s help with weight loss, balancing blood sugar, and reducing the risks of heart disease. A diet that contains lots of omega-9s can help combat an excess of omega-6s. Simply put, the more omega-9 a food has, the less omega-6 it has.
What Steps Can You Take To Balance These Fats?
- Focus on consuming more omega-3s and omega-9s while reducing your intake of omega-6s.
- Limit your vegetable oils, particularly those high in omega-6. If you must use one of these oils, opt for a healthier, cold-pressed version.
- Prep your foods using coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter, and ghee.
- Limit processed foods and condiments. They often contain a large amount of omega-6s.
- Eat foods that are rich in omega-3s, fatty fish in particular. If are not a big fan of eating fish, try a fish oil supplement instead.
- If you are vegan, boost your omega-3 intake with flax, chia, hemp, and marine algae while continually watching your omega-6 intake.