By Clara Barnett ND, LAc
If you’re like many people, you might be inclined to avoid fat in your diet. After all, over the years we’ve been told that fat is bad. The default became carbohydrates and protein. But fat is an essential nutrient that contributes to invaluable health benefits. Here a few to keep in mind.
Number one: your body needs fat to absorb vitamins. Did you know that vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble? That means that they require fat in order to be utilized by the body. For example, you could enhance your carrot sticks by shredding them and adding olive oil, lemon-juice and a little sea salt as in the French “carottes rapées.” Adding fat to these vegetables maximizes your vitamin A absorption, plus it’s delicious and satisfying. Fat-free dressing won’t do the job.
Number two: fats differ widely in their impact on our bodies. Knowing your fats can make all the difference to your health. Trans fat, such as those found in processed foods can be pro-inflammatory. This can also be true of high amounts of saturated fats, as in animal products including dairy. The opposite is true of Omega 3 fats, as in fish oil. These can reduce inflammation in the body. Plant-based oils from nuts and avocados are good sources of healthy monounsaturated fats.
Fat also helps to slow the release of sugar into our bloodstream. If you eat yogurt with fat, it will help slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream and keep you satisfied longer. What does that mean? It can help control cravings and prevent overeating. Eat plain yogurt with a piece of fruit instead of added sugar for breakfast or a perfect snack.
Bottom line: stick to high-quality fats that are as close to their natural state as possible and avoid refined and artificial trans fats found in processed foods. Fat-free is not necessarily health-promoting. Not all saturated fats are bad. However, we should be focusing on the unsaturated fats that are extremely health-promoting. Avoiding artificial trans fats in processed foods prevents unwanted substances in our bodies.