"While "healthy fats" are a better alternative to artery-clogging saturated and trans-fats, overdoing it can still lead to weight gain and health issues."
~ Maria bella, R.D.
You may have noticed that the latest nutrition trend is to eat a diet "high in healthy fats". Yet, personally, I found that I gained weight and began to feel less and less well as a result. So, I decided to take a closer look this week and dedicate my blog to this topic.
Like proteins and carbohydrates, fats are essential to our diet. We need a certain amount of "good" fat in our diet to stay healthy. It provides energy, stabilizes blood sugar, helps the body absorb important fat soluble vitamins, makes food taste better, and helps up feel full after meals.
"Too much of a good thing doesn't turn it into a GREAT thing. Healthy fat is no exception."
~ Willow Jarosh, R.D.
It is so easy to get carried away thinking that we are doing a good thing for ourselves. However, healthy fat is still fat, and just like unhealthy types of fat, it's loaded with calories. Fat is also a hormonally active tissue. It produces estrogen, and when consumed in excessive amounts it increases our risk of cancer.
In addition, the recent death of George Michaels has put the spotlight on fatty liver disease. While alcohol is a leading cause of fatty liver, it can also occur in those who consume little to no alcohol, but are overweight or obese, have high cholesterol, or high triglycerides due to a diet high is sugar and/or fat - even good fats!
You see, one of the many jobs our liver does is to process fat. It breaks it down and releases it as an energy source. But if your diet is too high in fat, the liver starts storing it - which eventually can lead to a sluggish or fatty liver and a whole host of health challenges associated with that.
(If you would like more information about the liver and how to support it, check out last week's blog, Spring Is The Most Important Time To Do A Cleanse.)
"There are many people out there that struggle with 5 to 10 pounds and they're eating all the right things but they're eating too much of the right things."
~ Heather Bauer, R. D.
A salad with salmon, olives, nuts, avocado, and salad dressing contains a tremendous amount of fat. Another example is a smoothie that contains coconut milk, avocado, chia or flax seeds, and protein powder made from hemp or some other kind of seeds. And dinner is when we can REALLY get into fat overload. And then there's lattes and desserts - oh my!
As a rule of thumb, incorporate fat at every meal but ONLY 1-2 servings per meal. Here are some examples of a serving of healthy fat:
- 3 oz salmon
- 10 olives
- 10-15 nuts
- 1 Tbsp nut butter
- 1/4 avocado
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp seeds
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
The KEY to following the higher fat diet trend that is popular right now is to severely limit carbohydrates (grains, starchy veggies like yams and potatoes, fruit, sugar, and alcohol) so that your body burns the fat as fuel (rather than the carbs) instead of storing it in the liver. But if you want to include carbohydrates as part of a healthy, balanced diet, then it is imperative to moderate your fat intake. So, it's an either/or situation - but not BOTH!
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Happy, Healthy Living!
JoAnn Newton is a Holistic Nutrition Educator and Master Massage Therapist with a private practice in Graton, CA.
Passionate about helping people transform their health through holistic nutrition, she facilitates the 23 day online Nutritional E-Cleanse Program seasonally with coaching, compassion, and humor.