Myth Monday: Stay Away from Fats

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Fats are perceived as the “taboo” macronutrient but this is a misconception.  While research and education has helped some people understand the health benefits of fats, the misunderstanding persists.

 

Benefits of Healthy Fats:

  • Help maintain proper hormone function
  • Minimal effects on insulin release
  • Allow for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)
  • Support cell membrane integrity
  • Provide a steady form of energy

 

Types of Fats to Include:

  • Avocado
  • Minimally processed coconut oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • All natural nut butters
  • Fish or fish oil supplements
  • Organic/hormone -free whole eggs

 

Are all saturated fats bad for you?

Saturated fats clog arteries and cause heart attacks, right?  Not all saturated fats.  Take coconut oil, which consists entirely of saturated fats.  The saturated fats found in coconut oil, however, are known as medium- chain triglycerides ( MCTs), which function much like complex carbohydrates but without the excess insulin spike.  They are readily broken down and used as fuel by the body, as opposed to long -chain triglycerides, which are harder to break down.    Saturated fats from a good source like  coconut oil or grass- fed/free-range animals can benefit your health. A few studies show that males who incorporated more MCTs in their diet had higher levels of testosterone than the control group.

 

Go with grass fed

The saturated fats, in beef from a grass-fed cow are very different from the saturated fats in beef from a  grain-fed cow.  The saturated fats of beef from most grain-fed cows contain a higher amount of palmitic and myristic acids (forms of saturated fats), while the saturated fats in beef from grass-fed cows have higher levels of stearic acid (another form of saturated fats).  Studies correlate high cholesterol and increased risk for heart attack with myristic and palmitic acids.  Stearic acid has not been shown to increase the risk for heart problems.  Also, there is a higher concentration of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in grass-fed beef. CLA  has been shown to increase antioxidant activity and decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

 

Take away

Fats do not make you fat! Eating too many calories in general will make you gain fat (whether the excess calories are coming from protein, carbohydrate, or fat).   Remember: fats do contain 9 calories per gram (more than twice as many calories as protein and carbs), so use this article to make healthy choices on how you get your fats and eat sparingly. Need help figuring out just how much of your dietary intake should be from fats? Drop us a line!

 

Avocado Image courtesy of anat_tikker / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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