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Posts Tagged ‘good fats’

A fat, is not a fat, is not a fat…


I recently have heard a lot about fats.  Fats and skin, fats and health, fats and weight.

Fat is often seen as the bad guy. Every woman’s magazine talks about good fat, and bad fats, Mufas, and Pufas… and every man’s magazine stresses the importance of low fat— high protein.  Regardless, fat is always, always a hot topic.

Here is the deal with fats:  Fats are absolutely essential in our diet, especially in times of stress, but, and here is the big but, FATS ARE NOT ALL CREATED EQUALLY.

In order for a fat to be considered beneficial by, and to the body, it must be able to be digested, broken down, and assimilated by the body.  If it cannot, then it cannot nourish the body.  If it cannot nourish the body, it is not beneficial.  Simple.

That sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo, right?

Think of it this way, fried food, for instance, is fatty. It is cooked in an oil at a high temperature, and the oil is often times reused to cook multiple batches of French fries, chicken fingers, or onion rings, etc.  When you heat oil to a high temperature; you change the chemical structure of the fat.  The healthiest of fats are always the “rawest” of fats.  When you purchase a “cooking oil” (aside from a raw coconut oil), you are more than likely choosing an oil that has been refined for cooking purposes.  Refined oil is not raw oil, which makes it more difficult for the body to breakdown and utilize. When the chemical structure of a delicate fat is altered, it increases the likelihood of free radical formation in the body.  Free radicals are responsible for degeneration.  They are commonly referred to in regards to premature aging and wrinkles (hence the abundance of skin creams dedicated to the matter).  In order to have beautiful, clear, wrinkle-free skin, it is essential that we avoid, and eliminate fried foods from the diet.  Additionally, it important to avoid processed, refined fats, and hydrogenated fats, like the ones found in pastries sweets, frozen meals, candy bars, etc.  (They hide in everyday, mainstream foods).

Why do we want to avoid these fats?  Simply put, the body cannot properly breakdown this type of processed fat, and it will inevitably cause health complications (including, but limited to, weight gain).  In order to avoid these fats, check the ingredients, instead of just zoning in on the nutrition facts—they can be misleading!

That being said, I recently had a discussion, with a dear friend of mine, regarding fat, and how it can affect the skin. A quality fat nourishes the cells, whereas a processed, refined, or cooked fat does the exact opposite.  It is true that a quality fat, such as avocado, can lend itself to oily skin, but only if the body is not properly utilizing the raw, plant-based fat.  In order to ensure that our body is able to utilize a quality fat, it helps to practice food combining.  Additionally, we can observe how the body is utilizing fat, or any food, by noticing how easily it is digested, and eliminated. If you are experiencing breakouts around the mouth, it is more than likely that you are consuming something that the body is trying to expel.  In other words, for some people, there can be such a thing as “too much of a good thing” (when the rest of our diet, is not exactly optimum). Balance is key, as are the types of fat we chose to nourish the body with.  A quality fat, that is being optimally utilized the body will not cause overly oily skin. French fries, candy bars, and other unhealthy fats, will.  Period.

Note:  A completely healthy person will have radiant skin, (but “healthy skin” does not necessarily mean a healthy body).

Most fats that we hear discussed about today are the fats that are in our everyday processed foods.  A candy bar, French fries, or a commercial condiment like mayo, or dressing, is never optimal when trying to lose weight, achieve superior digestion, health, skin, or any of the above.

While we are on the subject of good fats and bad fats, it is a very common misconception that low fat, is healthier than full fat. This can be a somewhat tricky conversation to have with someone that has this ingrained in their minds.  Why?  There are some foods that are just plain unhealthy no matter which way you spin it.  Thousand Island dressing (or mayo, or ranch, or….), for instance, contains an abundance of ingredients that are difficult to digest on their own, even before they are coupled with a plethora of similarly troublesome ingredients, most of which are synthetic and/or processed.  This particular dressing, (one of many), also happens to have a high amount of fat (and sugar, and calories, etc.), so… somewhere down the line, someone produced a Low Fat version.  Although this may seem like an ideal purchase from the outside, it is not.  A dressing, or any food, that either contains ingredients that you do not immediately recognize, or ones that contain egg and animal products, plus other added ingredients, are going to be more taxing on the body. These foods are more difficult to digest in general.  The farther we get away from natural, plant-based foods, the more difficult they become to breakdown.  If they are difficult to breakdown, they cause problems.

When foods miraculously turn “low fat,” it is more than likely that the “fat” has been replaced with even more synthetic, or chemically altered ingredients. Although this new food may appear healthier, it can be even more difficult for the body to break down because the body is at a loss for how to even begin to break down something that was not created by nature.

Next time you are in the grocery store, I challenge you to compare a product to its “Low Fat counterpart.”  More than likely you will see certain ingredients replaced by different “manufactured” ingredients.

When is a fat, a good fat?

Raw, plant based fats are always your safest bet. Some of these are: avocados, young Thai coconuts, raw nuts and seeds, cold pressed oils, coconut butter, coconut oil…

Just some of my favorite recipes (I am a big dessert person):

Chocolate banana pudding

Carob Pudding

Ice Cream

Yogurt

The closest you can get to nature, the better.

Another article about fat!  The Good and The Bad.

What is your take on fat?  How does it affect you?  How do you decipher the good fats from the bad fats?  What is your favorite “fatty” recipe!?

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Avocados are incredibly delicious, versatile and nutrient dense.

They are rich in potassium (higher than bananas)

High in Vitamin K- (allows your blood to clot normally, and helps to protect your bones)

Fairly high in the B-Complex Vitamins,

Contains Vitamin A, C, E, and,

Are rich in magnesium, iron, calcium and other trace minerals

Fat!  Good fat!

Avocados are extremely rich in fat- (Roughly 20-25 grams per fruit). This is the good fat, folks.  It is pure, raw, plant-based, nutrient dense, fat.  It is mainly composed of Monounsaturated fat (MUFA), and tied for second at its levels of Polyunsaturated, and Saturated fat.  The body needs some fat to function.  Growing children especially need fat.  However, there is a difference between the fat we find in an avocado, and the fat we find in a cookie.  Even if one were to compare a low-fat cookie, to an avocado, the plant-based fat in the avocado, will be more readily digested and assimilated by the body than the cookie.

Calories and fat aren’t the focus here.  Do you remember that twenty-page, research-paper you B.S.’d, and got a C+ on?  Yet, that two page, well thought out, answer to an essay question, awarded you an A…

It is all about content, content, content(Or in the case of your avocado, and cookie, ingredients, ingredients, ingredients).

I recently received this excellent question concerning avocados:

“I eat half an avocado a day or more. I wake up craving them…I crave them after I eat them. My body wants avocado! Though I like guacamole, I’m mostly just talking, any form of solid avocado… avocado roll, or on a salad, whatever…I’m not picky! Tell me…is this really bad for me? I know they are good fat but is there a reason my body could be craving them? Could eating them daily be hurting me?” -- Melissa

Great question! And one that would require a better understanding of what other types of fat you eat, and your exercise regimen/activity level.

Fat performs many life-supporting functions in every cell of the body. It is required to transport nutrients (specifically the fat soluble vitamins A,D,E, and K).  It is also important in the absorption of calcium, ensuring the optimal function of the nervous system, and the manufacture of sex hormones.   Additionally, it acts a source of fuel for the body, and a protective blanket for our vital organs, shielding them from trauma, and cold temperatures. 

Over the years however, we have confused our body’s yearning for nutrient dense fat, and have responded by consuming processed, or cooked fats, whether it be a burger, fried food, cookies, or chips, etc.

So… Why do we crave avocado?

Questions for the Avocado Craver:

1.  What type of diet do you enjoy? Are you a vegetarian, or vegan, that does not receive a lot of fat from animal sources, fish, dairy, eggs, fried, or processed foods?   If we are not living the mainstream American diet, our bodies are going to look for a source of fat that meets its needs.  Do not get me wrong, our body does NOT want mainstream America’s main sources of fat.  However, we are often too prone to reaching for the fat in a granola bar, than we are to actually listening to what our body really wants, and needs.

The best sources of fat we can nourish our bodies with, come from our plants—nuts, seeds, avocados, young thai coconuts, and first-cold pressed oils (like flax and olive).

* For a vegetarian, or vegan, that does not consume a lot of fat, the oils in avocado can be an ideal source of nourishment.

2.  What is your “external” body temperature? Do you find that you are cold during the cooler months, or frequently chilly?  The body tends to crave “fatty” and denser foods when we are cold.  Fat helps to regulate body temperature.

3. What is your workout regimen, and/or, activity level? Rigorous exercise places stress (good and bad) on the body, and increases the body’s demand for water and nutrients.  Sweating causes a loss of nutrients, particularly the B vitamins, potassium and magnesium—all of which the avocado is rich in.  Exercise also burns fat, and the body looks to replenish these losses.  The avocado is, not only rich in vitamins, minerals and fat, but also protein (around 3-5 grams of digestible plant protein) and carbohydrates, making it, in my opinion, an awesome, pre, or post, workout meal.

4. Fat and emotions. We cannot overlook the role that our emotions hold in this evaluation, regardless of whether or not our body needs fat, in any given day.  From our infancy, we are nourished and nurtured with mother’s milk, or infant formula.  This “milk” is rich in fat.  It is not uncommon, then, that we are psychologically prone to correlate something fatty with the need for comfort, during the stresses of everyday life.

5. Oh. And who doesn’t like the rich, satisfying creamy texture of the avocado?  It is versatile, and delicious.  Don’t underestimate the versatility of the avocado.

So, to answer your question, I do not think it is unhealthy to be enjoying a whole avocado daily, but I do think that it is important that it is combined correctly, to ensure that the nutrients are being adequately digest, absorbed and assimilated.  :)

What is your take on avocados?  What is your favorite avocado recipe?

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