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Now, onto some important information on healthy fats…
Fats are not evil! As a matter of fact, there are three that you need include in your diet in some measure in order to have optimum health:
- saturated fats,
- monounsaturated fats, and
- polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids.
I will talk about the saturated fat debate another time. Suffice to say that it is not as evil as we have been led to believe these past four decades.
“But,” you may be thinking, “what about butter?” Butter, after all, has been one of the most blacklisted foods in recent years.
On the contrary, butter should be considered a health food. Here are just a few reasons why:
- Butter contains all the fat soluble vitamins, as well as some of the trace minerals.
- Adding butter to grains and vegetables helps the body to absorb the minerals in those foods.
- It contains arachidonic acid, which has nothing to do with spiders. Rather, it is vital for optimum brain function. (Know anybody on a low-fat diet whose brain is always in a fog? That’s why.)
- Butter contains conjugated linoleic acid, which has anti-cancer properties.
In other words, if you’re spreading your bread and topping your veggies with something that you can’t believe isn’t butter, throw it out and replace it with the real deal (preferably organic—more about that later).
Another reason to embrace not just the saturated, but the other two fats listed above, is that all fats help the body to assimilate the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K. In fact, if you consume a low-fat diet you may be deficient in those vital nutrients (likely another reason I was so ill as a vegetarian—my diet was low-fat as well).
If you do a lot stir-frying and sautéing, monounsaturated fats should become your good buddies. Unlike the polyunsaturated fats, they remain stable when heated, and therefore are not toxic to your body. Olive, peanut, and avocado oil are three of the most popular cooking oils. Peanut oil, however, contains a high amount of the omega-6 fatty acids, so you should limit its use.
What about the omega-3s?
What makes them so great? Three main reasons:
- They promote the body’s production of certain chemicals that help reduce inflammation.
- This reduction in inflammation in turn reduces your risk of developing unhealthy conditions such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and heart disease.
- The omega-3s boost the immune system.
Have I convinced you that healthy fats are an important part of your diet, and that eating the right kinds will improve your health and buffer you against disease and illness? Great! Slather your salad with olive oil and your veggies with butter or coconut oil, and enjoy the flavor without the guilt.