- - Friday, July 15, 2016

Over time, fat has been ostracized, shamed and demonized. However, not all fat deserves this bad rap. Some fats are essential for our body, as they form the building blocks of cells and tissues. And, too, these fats can promote heart health and fend off a number of chronic health issues. But research shows that many people arbitrarily cut fat and replace it with refined carbs, thus missing out on the benefits of these healthy fats.

If you want to control your weight and live your healthiest life, you can get over your “fat fears” and dig into the fat-rich foods – a healthy body relies on it!!

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: About Healthy Fats

Nuts: Although they contain lots of fat calories—nearly 160-200 per ounce—studies show that people who consume nuts live longer and lead healthier lives. In addition to a reduced risk of heart disease, nuts are also associated with decreased Type 2 diabetes as well as Alzheimer’s dementia. The reason behind these health benefits is that they are chock-filled with unsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, and other nutrients that are good for the heart. And there is a saying that what is healthy for the heart is also healthy for the mind.

If you need another reason to go nutty over nuts, they have been shown to help maintain a healthy weight and may even help in slimming down. Some of the theories behind this is that they contain tons of protein, unsaturated fats, and are crunchy, which can translate to a feeling of fullness, or satiety. So although you may be consuming fat calories, in the long run, you end up eating fewer calories overall. And, too, another contributing reason is that approximately 20 percent of the fat in nuts are not absorbed by the body. It’s like getting a 20 percent discount on fat calories!

Avocado: With their green, bumpy skin and pear shape, avocados have been aptly dubbed “alligator pears,” and are loaded with fat. In fact, 77% of its calories come from fat making it a unique fruit indeed—and, yes, it is a fruit because it has a seed.

The primary fat is oleic acid, a monosaturated fatty acid, which is also present in olive oil and is believed to bestow numerous health benefits. Research suggests that this “healthy fat” helps to lower the risk of heart disease, bad cholesterol levels (low-density lipoproteins; LDL), and inflammation. Its benefits do not stop there. Oleic acid appears to improve fasting blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity, and blood circulation. And as a result, it may help fend off diabetes and improve blood sugar control in those who are pre-diabetic or diabetic.

Additionally, the alligator pear contains 20 different vitamins and minerals and is rich in fiber, devoid of cholesterol and sodium, and low in saturated fat and carbohydrates. Another interesting fact is that avocados are a great source of potassium, with 40% more of this essential mineral than bananas, which are touted for this. Potassium plays an important role in blood pressure control, fluid balance, and nerve condition, to name a few. And the icing on the cake (figuratively, not literally) is that research shows those who eat avocados tend to weigh less and have less belly fat than those who do not.

Fatty fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring):
Yummy and good for you—these flavorful fish are filed with omega-3 fatty acids. And while the health benefits from consuming a diet rich in omega-3s is long, I would like to bring attention to a noteworthy benefit: it can decrease the risk for depression and anxiety. Furthermore, one small study, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, stated that omega-3 fatty acid was found to have equal therapeutic effects to a leading prescription anti-depressant in those who suffered from major depressive disorder. And in fact, the combination of omega-3 fatty acid and the prescription medication had superior effects compared to either of them alone.

Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, dementia, inflammation, and improve skin and eye health as well as sleep. For those who are vegetarians or not so fond of fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans, tofu, and cauliflower are other good options to get your daily dose. And, too, omega-3 supplements are available.

Hard, Full-Fat Cheeses
Cheese lovers everywhere can rejoice! I know I am!! Despite the calorie and fat content, cheese consumption may help attain a slimmer waistline. Let’s take a look at the “French paradox.” The French have one of the highest rates of cheese consumption in the world—approximately 57 pounds of cheese every year. However, their rate of cardiovascular disease and obesity is significantly lower than Americans.

While the reason behind this slimming effect is not entirely clear, researchers believe that the calcium binds to fat in the intestines and decreases fat absorption. How was this discovered? By faithful, diligent, and brave researchers who measured fat content in feces (a.k.a. “poop”). And, no, you cannot get the same results with calcium supplements.

There is also evidence to suggest that the fatty acid butyrate found in aged cheeses—also produced by bacteria in the gut—can contribute to this. It is believed that it revs up our metabolism, improves insulin sensitivity, as well as decreases bad cholesterol levels and inflammation.

And let’s not forget that olive and coconut oils, dark chocolate, whole eggs, grass-fed beef (and grass-fed butter) – all known for their high fat content can be healthy for you in moderation (and watching calorie counts). Experts agree, all fats are not evil!!! In fact, the right fats can help to hustle-up your metabolism, help ensure optimum brain function for years to come and balance your hormones as well as help your skin glow. Time to get over the “fat” phobia by doing your homework and look for ways to add healthy and nutritious fats to your cooking and diet, daily.

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