In the last 20 years, we have heard a great deal about the “low fat movement.” In that time, we have seen astronomical increases in the incidence of diabetes and overall obesity as we have searched for ways to satisfy that basic human desire for fat with artificial flavors and sugars. More recently, research has begun to discover that it was only certain types of fat (like hydrogenated oils) that increased our risk of disease, but that many fats can actually be beneficial for both weight loss and improving overall health.
Initial studies that prompted the “low fat movement” were actually done on partially hydrogenated oils (like crisco), leading researchers to draw the conclusion that all fats were detrimental to one’s health. As health research has progressed, we have discovered not only are some of those (once believed evil) fats are not only not bad for us, but they are beneficial for consumption. Now, before you dive head first into a pan of bacon, let’s examine the differences between fats and learn how to tell which ones are the best for us.
Partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) are found in a great deal of shelf stable baked goods as well as almost all margarine. Even when the label says “trans fat free,” the item can have 0.5 gram of trans fat without being listed. Look on your label for the words “partially hydrogenated.” If you find that anywhere on the label, put it back.
Research is uncovering some alternatives that also taste super yummy! Here are two great fats and some of their amazing health benefits:
- Coconut oil – Coconut oil is completely different than any other fats found in the diet. This oil is comprised primarily of medium chain fatty acids which are metabolized very differently than longer chain fatty acids. As we have already learned, ALL CALORIES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL. While coconut oil adds additional calories to the diet, it is very thermogenic (like protein) and increases energy expenditure. A recent rat study found that when rats were overfed (trying to make them gain weight, those fed medium chain fats compared to long chain gained 20% less weight and 23% less body fat. You don’t have to add extra calories in order get the added benefits. Simply try switching out some of your olive oil cooking for coconut oil. For an extra kick, try adding a teaspoon of coconut oil to your morning coffee in the blender instead of cream. It’s an amazing treat with metabolic benefits! Coconut oil:
- Helps stabilize blood sugar and is great for diabetics
- Supports healthy thyroid function
- Increases energy expenditure, causing your body to burn more fat
- Kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi helping you stay healthier
- Kills bacteria inside the mouth and promotes repair of gum tissue
- Promotes healthier cholesterol. Studies show that coconut oil helps to both increase HDL (healthy cholesterol) and decrease LDL (bad cholesterol)
- Boosts brain function. Coconut oil has been shown to improve brain function and is even being used as a therapeutic agent with Alzheimer’s patients.
- Anti inflammatory. Whether used inside the body (by eating it) or to heal the skin, the lauric acid in coconut oil is beneficial for decreasing inflammation.
- Grass fed butter – When switching to healthier oils/fats, it is important to understand that certain ones have greater benefits than others. Conventional butter comes from cows fed hormones and antibiotics (which are used to promote weight gain in cows…..and people). Grass fed butter has tremendous health benefits and is not readily available in most grocery stores. The best brand is Kerrygold butter (http://kerrygoldusa.com/products/butter/?gclid=CNyFtdrqgMQCFVc6gQod41QArA) which is now carried at mainstream stores like Target grocery store. Grass fed has additional benefits over organic as the real benefit comes from the cows exposure to sunlight and the nutrients they receive from grass instead of grains. Here are some of the great benefits of using grass fed butter:
- Grass-fed butter is one of the best sources of fat soluble vitamins D, A, E, K, and K2. If you are vitamin D deficient, grass fed butter is a great, natural way to obtain this vital nutrient.
- Grass-fed butter contains Vitamin A, which is crucial for a healthy immune system, the health of our thyroid, adrenals, and other organs
- Helps with the absorption of calcium.
- Grass-fed butter has more carotene than carrots.
- Grass-fed butterfat contains glycospingolipids, a type of fatty acid that protects against gastro-intestinal infection.
- Grass-fed butter is good for the thyroid, as it is a good source of iodine.
- Vitamins A and D in grass-fed butter are critical to the proper absorption of calcium which is necessary for strong bones and teeth.
- Grass-fed butter contains high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a compound that protects against cancer and also helps your body build muscle rather than store fat.
- Cholesterol in grass-fed butterfat is actually good for you, as it promotes health of the intestinal wall and protects against colon cancer.
Vitamin A and other antioxidants are in grass-fed butter.
High in vitamin E, selenium and cholesterol which protects against cancer and heart disease.
Protects against tooth decay and cavities.
So as you can see, research is uncovering some great changes for us to start making! At Heart In Motion, we will continue to bring you the latest research in a way that is understandable and not overwhelming. As always, we will give you simple ways to APPLY your changes.
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Try adding coconut oil to a few cooking dishes. For an extra coconut flavor, try "unrefined." For less coconut flavor, "refined" is best.
- For a decadent treat on the weekend, blend a teaspoon (it doesn't take much) of coconut oil into your coffee. Make sure to blend for this creamy treat!
- Trade out grass fed butter instead of olive oil in a sautee'd veggie dish this week. Your taste buds and heart will thank you!
- Moderation is key, so try not to overdo it. Just start switching out some of your other oils for coconut oil and grass fed butter.