I was reminded this week through a conversation with a friend that fats are often still vilified in mainstream culture. Even though we’ve seen a few dominoes fall (including a giant curl of butter on the cover of Time magazine) it can be hard to shift those paradigms, especially in the minds of those who have been diligently following the recommended low fat guidelines for years.
The truth of the matter is, the low fat guidelines are now being recognized as not only misguided, but even harmful to health. I find when dealing with deeply entrenched erroneous nutritional information it is always helpful to go back to the facts as they present themselves. There are many articles out now that reference back to scientific studies on fats, I’ll link to those below. But let’s pause for a moment and consider what fats really do for us, as a way of understanding what can happen to us when we are insufficient in fats.
-Fats help us lose weight, and maintain a healthy weight (WHAT??) You read that right. Fats do not spike insulin, which the body uses to store excess glucose in cells as bodyfat. Fats replace refined carbohydrates in healthy diets as a source of energy. Fats sustain us with steady energy for long periods of time, providing energy and curbing hunger. Fats are the BIG LOG on the fire.
-Fats are building blocks for every cell membrane in the body. Fats support cell integrity. Saturated fats are required for structure, Poly and Mono unsaturated fats are needed for cell permeability (the ability of water, nutrients, and toxins to pass in and out of the cell.) Yes, we need all types of fats- saturated fats too!
-Because of the above fact, fats are needed for cell regeneration. You cannot build cells without fats.
-Fats are needed in the cells so they can retain water. Fats are needed to prevent premature aging, to retain supple cells, which translates to supple and healthy skin and organs.
-Fats are needed for healthy liver function, to make (needed) cholesterol and bile.
-Fats are required for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K.
-Fats are required as part of the inflammatory/anti-inflammatory healing processes of the body.
-Fats make food taste good!!
It is vitally important that we choose good fats to include in our diet rather than damaging fats. Damaging fats are denatured fats that become oxidized and cause damage to bodily tissues. These include transfats and industrially processed polyunsaturated fats, like canola, cottonseed, and soybean oil.
Good fats include fats like coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, lard from clean sources, pastured butter, ghee, and the fats in grass fed beef, wild salmon and other fishes, pastured eggs, and pastured poultry.
Choose good fats and enjoy them! They are part of a wonderful sustainable way of eating.