Most of us have heard from our doctors that fat is the dietary enemy, that is, if you want to be healthy. The phrase “healthy fats” usually refers to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. What makes healthy fats is, along with other heart-health benefits, they help reduce LDL cholesterol, the kind of cholesterol that clogs your arteries. Research also shows healthy fats can benefit insulin and blood sugar levels, decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes. As far as unhealthy fats go, just remember the words “trans-fats” which are usually labelled and known as partially hydrogenated oils.
Regularly consuming the following ten best sources of healthy fats as part of a healthy diet, instead of sugars and grains, will help your body burn fat more efficiently. And making the shift to fat-burning from burning primarily carbs, will allow you to go much longer without feeling hungry. Most people don’t realize that fats act as carriers for those all-important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Healthy fats are also needed for mineral absorption, very important for good health, as well as a host of other biological processes.
Ten Best Sources of Healthy Fats
Avocado is a great source of healthy fats and has the exceptional ability to benefit your vascular and heart health. Avocado is actually classified as a fruit and contains other health benefits such as providing anti-inflammatory benefits and protecting the liver from damage. A 1996 study done by researchers in Mexico found that people who ate avocado every day for one week experienced an average 17 percent drop in total blood cholesterol. Also, their levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol decreased and HDL (“good”) cholesterol increased. Did you know that you can also replace the fats in baking recipes with equal amounts of avocado? As far as I’m concerned, avocado is truly classified as a “super fruit” that should be eaten every day!
Nuts and Seeds
Most nuts and seeds have a large amount of important nutrients including healthy fats packed into a very tiny package. If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, eating a handful of nuts instead of an unhealthy snack can help you more easily follow a heart-healthy diet. Eating nuts may reduce the risk of developing blood clots that can cause a fatal heart attack. Nuts also appear to improve the health of the lining of your arteries.
Nuts contain unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, natural vitamin E (helps help stop the development of plaques in your arteries), plant sterols L-arginine which is a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow. For example, almonds are very high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and fiber, while walnuts are a great plant-based source of an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid.
Some good ways to consume nuts: spread some organic almond butter down the center of a stalk of organic celery. Add a handful of raw almonds to your salad or chop and use as a topping for steamed or healthy sautéed vegetables. In addition, you can add freshly ground nuts to your morning smoothie.
Organic, Virgin, Unprocessed Coconut Oil
Who hasn’t heard of the virtues of coconut oil? Coconut oil is a wonderful choice as a source for healthy fats. It is structured a bit different than most of the oils we have discussed so far, having mostly omega 6 and omega 9 EFAs and no omega 3s. However, because it is rich in certain types of fats such as linoleic acid, oleic acid, and lauric acid, vitamins E and K, and iron, it is a bountiful resource for many reasons. Introducing coconut oil into your diet helps to prevent heart disease (even though it is high in saturated fats – but the right kind), boosts the immune system, is good for the thyroid, and can even help you to lose and maintain your weight (use in moderation though, as it relatively high in calories). Recent research suggests that coconut oil can help to boost metabolism rates. This is because coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides which are burned by the body more quickly. Coconut oil can also help you to digest and absorb more nutrients from your food. Coconut oil is very versatile too and can be used for stir-frying, in dips and salad dressings, and as an excellent substitute for butter. Some people even use it as a creamer in their tea. And, some people use it as a healing moisturizer for their skin. . Overall, coconut oil is wonderful for your health!
Cold-Pressed Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is the old standby for healthy oils, and for very good reasons. It has been a staple in the Mediterranean Diet because of its many health benefits, excellent flavor and versatility and because it is locally grown in Mediterranean climates. It has ample amounts of a balanced proportion of omega 3 and omega 6, but most of the beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil are a form of omega 9. It is also very high in a powerful type of antioxidant called phenols. Studies have proven the value of a diet high in olive oil, from boosting heart and vascular health to preventing colon and other cancers. Use olive oil in dressings and dips. Contrary to what many say, I do not recommend cooking/heating olive oil. Olive oil is a nutritional powerhouse, but it must be handled and stored carefully to prevent rancidity and potentially harmful free radicals.
CAUTION: Unfortunately, seven of the largest olive oil manufacturers in the USA have been caught cutting their olive oil products with cheaper, inferior oils (such as sunflower oil or canola oil) in order to minimize production costs. This scamming of the public prompted the University of California to perform studies on 124 imported brands of extra virgin olive oil. Their findings showed that over 70% of the samples tested failed.
If you know anything about the importance of a healthy diet, chances are you know that healthy gut bacteria are an absolute necessity for good health and well-being. Consuming fermented foods on a regular basis are the most potent source of beneficial bacteria that can help restore and improve your gut health. Fermented foods have been through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process not only preserves the food, but also creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics. Fermented veggies are also capable of drawing out a varied range of toxins and heavy metals from your body. A bit of caution. If you are new to fermented foods, it’s best to introduce them gradually, beginning with as little as one teaspoon of fermented vegetables with a meal. Observe how your body reacts for a couple of days before proceeding with another small portion, and increase your dose gradually.
If you only can only afford limited organic foods, organic butter comes highly recommended. Why? Because it’s a highly concentrated form of milk. It’s not uncommon for non-organic butter to have up to 20 times the level of pesticides of non-organic fruits and vegetables. Grass-fed butter is high in butyric acid which can decrease inflammation and especially in people with Crohn’s disease. It’s best to find a source of raw butter from a trusted local organic farmer. Grass-fed butter is also high in vitamin A which is important for healthy mucous members and healthy skin. Grass-fed cows have much higher levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which can help combat cancer.
Organic Green Leafy Vegetables
The green vegetables you consume should be organic, locally grown, or even better – grown from your backyard garden or containers. Consuming organic vegetable varieties will limit your exposure to toxic pesticides and increase your nutrient intake since they have been scientifically proven to contain as much as two to five times more essential nutrients than non-organic vegetables. Most adults and even children agree organic vegetables have more intense flavor and overall, taste better. Be sure to always thoroughly wash your vegetables, even ones that need peeling, before preparing them for consumption.
Free-range, locally-grown chicken can be one of the healthiest forms of animal protein you can consume – that is, if you are able to know the grower and their growing methods. Buying from a local farmer is the best way of getting the safest and healthiest chicken. The chicken you consume should be pasture-raised and exposed to large amounts of fresh grass and insects. They should also get a great amount of fresh air and sun exposure. And they should not be given antibiotics or growth-accelerating hormones. In fact, one major chicken grower is now successfully using oregano oil and cinnamon instead of antibiotics.
Organic Pastured Free-Range Eggs
Pastured eggs are one of the best protein sources you can eat. One whole egg contains 5 grams of fat, but only 1.5 grams are saturated. There is some suggestion that consuming boiled eggs is the best for boosting metabolism. Eggs are a very good source of both selenium and iodine. Eggs contain all nine essential amino acids, which helps your body to build muscle tissue. Eggs ensure your body is getting the right amount of protein, omega 3 fats, healthy B vitamins, and essential amino acids. Eggs also have iron, which the metabolism needs to function at its best. Multiple studies have shown the chromium found in eggs, which is an important mineral your body needs for blood sugar regulation.
Caution: If you absolutely must purchase your eggs from a commercial grocery store, look for ones that are marked free-range and organic. They’re still going to originate from a mass-production facility (be careful about eating them raw), but if you are unable to find a local source, this is your best route. It’s a good idea to avoid all omega-3 eggs as they are the least healthy. These eggs usually come from chickens fed poor-quality sources of omeda-3 fats that are already oxidized. They also perish much faster.