Not all fats are created equal and I’m passionate about sharing this message. I want my readers to really understand the difference between healthy fats and unhealthy fats. If you haven’t already read Part 1 and Part 2 of ‘getting the facts about fats right’, then please catch up here and here.
In the spirit of keeping real food simple, I’ve made a list for you today of 10 healthy fats that I recommend you include in your diet.
In no particular order:
Currently the ‘darling of the fats’ amongst the health conscious, and for good reason. Coconut oil is filled with Medium Chain Fatty Acids especially Lauric Acid which is easily absorbed by the body as a very convenient source of energy. Coconut oil is largely made of saturated fatty acids which are very important to consume (despite what you may have been told) because the fat composition of our cells is largely saturated fat (ie we need it for healthy cells). Another great benefit of coconut oil is that it does not oxidize easily at high temperatures or go rancid easily which means its a perfect choice for cooking and baking. Dairy intolerant people often use it as a substitute for butter. I recommend this one
Avocados & Avocado Oil
Whole avocados are good source of monounsaturated fats and great on/in salads or as guacamole. Avocado oil which is mild tasting, making it perfect for salad dressings and home made mayo.
Olives & Olive Oil
High in monounsaturated fats and low in polyunsaturated fats, olive oil is great for salad dressings, homemade mayo and I’ve spoken about cooking with olive oil here. Cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil is full of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.
Did you know peanuts are not nuts? They’re legumes! That aside, nuts are a great source of healthy fats and they come packaged with some good protein as well. A good thing to always check is that your roasted nuts don’t contain vegetable oils, which is often the case. If you have a sensitive tummy, its best to activate your nuts before you eat them. Also, buying nuts that are still in their shell is the very best option to ensure they are fresh. If you purchase in bulk, keep them in the freezer to stop them going rancid.
Macadamia Nut Oil & Walnut Oil
Both of these oils are really delicious. Perfect for salad dressings, mayo & dessert or smoothie recipes. They contain high amounts of monounsaturated fats and low levels of polyunsaturated fats. Its best to keep these ones in the fridge for freshness and to keep rancidity low.
Chia Seeds & Flaxseeds
Although these guys have good amounts of omega 3’s in them, they aren’t a highly bioavailable kind of omega which means the body won’t be able to utilize much of it. Having said that, they are still a very healthy addition to your diet that I do recommend (just not as a source of omega’s which they are often touted for!). If you are choosing oils, be sure to keep them in the fridge.
**NOTE** I recommend only purchasing oils that are stored in dark glass bottles. Coconut oil is the exception to this rule due to its high saturated fat content, it’s much more stable.
And for those who choose to consume animal products (which I recommend but respect your choice):
Wild and Grass Fed Meats
Many meats have been given a bad wrap due to the saturated fat myth, but the truth is, it’s only the meat from animals that have been fed grains or mistreated (such as those raised in confied spaces) that is unhealthy for us. Wild meats and pasture raised (ie grass fed) meats are extremely nutritious. They have high nutrient levels and contain healthy forms of saturated fats as well as omega-3s. It’s important that you know grain fed meats are very different and I don’t recommend them in large quantities. Small amounts are fine if you eat a healthy diet.
Pasture Raised Eggs
I can’t praise pastured eggs enough. They are a true super food, loaded with vitamins, minerals & healthy fats. ‘Pastured’ means that the chickens are able to forage in open areas, which allows them to eat their natural diet of wild herbs, weeds, grubs & insects. This is how you get eggs that are rich in omega-3’s. As a little side note, runny yolks are better nutritionally as when the yolk hardens, the structure of the proteins changes (this is what changes the yolk from runny to hard!)
Wild fatty fish are naturally high in Omega-3 fatty acids and can help improve the Omega-3/Omega-6 balance in the body. The most important word in that last sentence is ‘wild’ because farmed fish are fed pellets and fish meal made from grains (which isn’t natural for fish to eat!) so aim for sustainable, wild caught fish. Mackeral, tuna, salmon, sardines and herring/kippers are all good places to start.
Pasture Fed Cultured Dairy (Kefir, Yoghurt & Butter)
Aim for organic / biodynamic, pasture fed and raw (if possible…). Unfortunately there is a lot of junk dairy out there so be sure to look at the ingredients list and aim for unhomegenised to ensure the fats aren’t damaged. Cultured dairy (yoghurt, kefir, cultured butter and cheese) is the easiest to digest and will contain beneficial bacteria so it’s a great addition if your diet can tolerate dairy. I’m a big advocator of both grass fed butter and ghee for those who don’t have allergies.