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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kristen Mitteness

What is "Quality Fat"?

Updated: Dec 23, 2018

For so long we thought fat was the enemy. I get it. Fat is an f-word. When we think of the word fat we think of something being big or large. But, here's the thing. Every cell in our body is surrounded by a layer of fat. We need fat for our cells to communicate, our organs are all protected by a nice layer of fat, our skin, hair and nails shine when we are eating quality fats, our brain is about 60% fat and we need to consume fat for our brains to register being full.

Eating a whole foods diet with plenty of quality fat does not make you fat. Fat is your friend. You need it to feel good. You need it to function well. Some of us even thrive on a diet where nearly 50% of our calories come from fat.

You have probably heard of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats. They are essential fatty acids. That means your body doesn't naturally make them and needs to consume them to properly function. Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory. They reduce your body's overall inflammation. Omega 6 fats are pro-inflammatory. They increase the body's inflammation, as necessary. The problem today is that we are consuming far too many Omega 6's (through our over consumption of processed foods) and too few Omega 3's. Transitioning into a whole foods diet and, for some of us, taking a quality Omega 3 supplement, can help balance these fats resulting in a much healthier body. Lower inflammation means less illness and disease.

You may often hear me say "make sure you are eating quality fat". Here is where I want you to get your fats from:

Animals: Fatty cuts of fish, meat and eggs. But, there's a caveat. Animals store their toxins in their fat to protect their body from it's damage. If you are eating fatty meats, please, please, please ensure these are wild caught fish, pastured or wild animals, free roaming chickens. They will have less toxins stored in their fats compared to factory farm animals. If you are eating factory farmed cuts of meat, look for leaner cuts. Wild caught fish and grass fed beef are great sources of Omega-3 fats. High fat dairy is also a good source for quality fats if you tolerate dairy. Foods like butter, cheese, heavy whipping cream, ghee, kefir and high fat yogurt can all be good fat sources.

Nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, pecans, walnuts, pepitas. All nuts and seeds contain quality fat. But, don't over consume them as they often have higher levels of Omega-6 fats. Also, we can easily build an intolerance to nuts. Make sure you are cycling the types of nuts and seeds you are eating to reduce the chances of certain nuts to become problematic.

Avocado: Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? I'm not sure, but it is a great source of fat! An avocado is about 75% fat, 20% carbohydrate and 5% protein.

Flax and Hemp seeds: Adding flax and hemp seeds to your salads is a great way to increase your fat consumption.

Oils: Generally speaking, choose oils from sources that you would typically eat (olives, macadamias, avocados, coconut, sesame). Look for cold pressed oils. When oils are heated, they have a "smoke point". When they reach this "smoke point" they become rancid and will cause damage (aging) to our cells. Fats and oils that are solid at room temperature (butter, coconut oil, lard) are more stable at higher heats and should be used for your cooking. Oils that are liquid at room temperature (olive oil) should be used to drizzle on your foods. That being said, avocado oil is actually more stable at higher heats. I would recommend avoiding soybean oils (vegetable oils) and canola oil because they are highly processed.

If you're not already eating quality fats, try consciously adding a little bit more of these quality fats to your meals. Commit to 3 to 4 weeks to notice any changes.

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