Next in our list of new regular Rubies is Alana, our resident health coach! She’s from Brisbane, and is the writer, editor and creator of ray of sunshine: wellness + awesome living. Her mission is to empower women to live awesomely through natural health, good food, positive body image and self love. It’s a real thrill to have her as part of the Rubies team!
Let’s talk about fat.
Fat is practically a dirty word in dieting circles. It’s seen as something to avoid at all costs: the first thing it eliminate when trying to lose weight, the culprit for acne and oily hair, the cause of high cholesterol, clogged arteries and heart
We now know that this isn’t the case.
Saturated fats have been part of the human diet for millions of years, and up until the 20th century nobody thought this was unhealthy. A few researchers found a possible link between saturated fat intake and cholesterol levels in the late 19th Century, and the theory, which took on the title the ‘Lipid Hypothesis’, became widely known through the work of scientist Ancel Keys in the 1950s.
Keys published studies showing correlation between fat intake and cholesterol levels leading to heart disease; however, out of the 22 countries he studied, only the seven that supported his hypothesis were included in the final results. If all 22 countries were included, the correlation would have disappeared.
Keys himself remarked in 1997, “There’s no connection whatsoever between the cholesterol in food and cholesterol in the blood. And we’ve known that all along.”
So, why do we need fat? Well, our brains are made up of 60 per cent fats, and eating good fats can improve cognitive function and possibly reduce the risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s later in life. Our bodies can’t manufacture these
essential fatty acids so they must come from the foods we eat. Think of it as brain food!
Additionally, our bodies are incredibly efficient fat burners. We can use fat as fuel for our daily energy. It’s one of the reasons we (annoyingly!) store fat on our bodies – so we have energy in times of no food. Some primal style diets advocate taking in more than half of your daily calories as fat.
So, what fats are good for us? Well, as with all dietary recommendations, as natural and unprocessed as possible is best. A great place to start is nuts, seeds and avocado, along with oils such as olive, macadamia, avocado and coconut. Olive oil is fantastic but has a low smoking point, so it’s better for salad dressing (and moisturiser!) than cooking.
Animal fats are a controversial topic; however there is evidence that quality, organic and pastured animal fats in moderation can be healthful and very satiating.
Highly processed, chemically altered fats and trans fats (like those found in commercially baked biscuits and fast foods) are not recommended.
Good fats can also help us to make the most of other nutrients. For example, a plate of veggies is great, but including a drizzle of oil or organic butter assists our bodies in metabolising the fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. It will make you feel fuller for longer, and also tastes awesome!
How do you feel about fat? Does it terrify you, or do you enjoy it as part of a balanced diet? Let us know in the comments!