Did you get the memo? Not all fats are created equal. And knowing the difference between them can pay off big time.We narrowed in on three crucial aspects of this topic with one of our fave plant-based chefs and our girls at Darling Magazine who really get us when it comes to eating right. Read on for a break down of the good, the bad and the worst…
It’s getting increasingly complicated to know what’s up or down when it comes to nutrition. Chef to the stars, Mikaela Reuben, is stepping in and simplifying things for us on the topic of good fats.
Mikaela holds a BSc, is a certified raw food chef, holistic nutrition counselor CHHC, AADP, and was mentored by renowned celebrity Chef Wayne Forman for over 10 years. Working for the likes of Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson, Mikaela’s passion is to inspire people to make better health, lifestyle, and food decisions. Below she’s sharing the answers to some of her most frequently asked food questions, and we hope they help streamline and simplify some of the confusion that’s out there…
Q: What are considered “healthy fats” and “unhealthy fats”?
A: Healthy fats are classified as “unsaturated fats,” and more specifically they’re categorized into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Monounsaturated fats stay liquid at room temperature, so this would include: olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, as well avocado and various nut oils. Polyunsaturated fats are rich in both omega-3 and omega-6, which are classified as essential fats due the fact that our body cannot create them on its own, but we need them to survive. Salmon, mackerel, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, sunflower/safflower oils are all types of polyunsaturated fats that help to stabilize inflammation, provide muscle movement and create cellular membranes, which support healthy nerve signaling and mental stamina.
Unhealthy fats are known as “trans fats.” These create inflammation in the body, which can lead to various illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis and they also work to increase bad LDL cholesterol, which causes plaque build up in the arteries, blocking the passage way for blood to flow optimally. Vegetable shortening, margarine, hydrogenated vegetable oils and high amounts of dairy and meat products are all sources of these fats. Ensure you read a product’s ingredients carefully, as most labeling will identify these fats as “partially hydrogenated oil.” Currently, there are no studies that state any benefits to trans fats and they are highly unrecommended for consumption.
Last but not least, “saturated fats.” These can include fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, butter, coconut oil, palm oil and many processed foods. If taken in high amounts, saturated fats can also contribute to a rise in LDL cholesterol, increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke. Coconut oil, however, is a special type of saturated fat in that it does raise LDL cholesterol levels, but at the same time it also works to raise levels of the good cholesterol, HDL. Coconut oil is therefore deemed a very good source of fat in lowering the risk of heart disease. There have been contrasting studies recently as to how much coconut oil to consume, but my recommendation would be to use it in moderation, as with most foods.
Coconut oil is a saturated fat and we’ve heard that saturated fats are bad for us. Should we avoid it?
A: This is a question that comes up often. People are always concerned about coconut oil being a saturated fat, but it’s claimed to be one of the best things for us. So, whats to give? Although most of the concern lies around the fear of high cholesterol with saturated fats containing a large amount of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), coconut oil contains increasing amounts of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), as well. HDL works powerfully to improve overall cholesterol levels in the body and massively reduces the risk of heart disease. This “magic” fat is primarily compromised of a very beneficial ingredient called lauric acid. In the body, lauric acid is converted into monolaurin, a component that withholds very effective anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Lauric acid is claimed to be a miracle fat for the high amount of health-promoting properties it contains. Wildly enough, coconut oil contains the most lauric acid of any substance on earth!
Q: Why should we avoid fat-free foods?
A: Fat-free products have been on the market for years, claiming to help individuals loose weight fast and keep it off. This is an old myth that associates weight gain with the (unbelievably) beneficial and essential macronutrient “fat.” Still, even now a majority of people continue to believe this, purchasing fat-free products unaware of what companies are replacing the fat with, which in most cases is sugar.
Sugar is the culprit behind weight gain, whether it be through added sugars, complex carbs, natural sweeteners and even high sugar fruits. It’s all a conversation of moderation, where sugars alter our blood sugar levels creating an energetic boost when first consumed, then following with a crash. Once this crash happens, our bodies crave the high again, resulting in reaching for that afternoon baked good or sweet drink. Fat-free products react in the same way, because fat is blood-sugar stabilizing, essential for mental clarity, muscle movement, cellular growth and overall health. Sugar causes that blood-sugar fluctuation, causing our bodies to consume more sugary foods to keep our energy high and our sweet tooth satisfied. If weight loss is a main goal, then I would always recommend a diet full of healthy fats, ensuring moderation is in place and alternating the types of fats often.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.