Americans have shunned fat in their diet, blaming it as the culprit for our obesity and heart disease. Unfortunately, this linear thinking of “fat makes you fat” is incomplete. In fact, the average person is 20 pounds heavier today than he or she was in 1990. Rather than focusing on fat, we need to focus on minimizing unhealthy fat sources while maximizing the many alternative healthy sources.
A diet with adequate amounts of fat leaves you satiated (feeling full). Often, foods labeled as ‘fat free’ are instead loaded with sugar and carbohydrates, which burn quicker and leave you feeling hungrier sooner. This is important and bears repeating: Fat is not the bad guy. It’s all about the kinds of fat we’re consuming. Our modern diet is far too heavy in omega-6 fatty acids (commonly found in vegetable oils, commercial meat, and processed foods), which leads to an imbalance that causes inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish) are the kinds of fats we need to consume for their anti-inflammatory effects. Current research shows that inflammation caused by omega-6 fatty acids is at the root of many modern-day health concerns, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Our diets have evolved to having a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids(15:1), whereas our diets once had a ratio of 1:1. Our bodies are unable to make omega-3, so it must come from our diets. Due to increased food processing and moving further away from natural agricultural practices, omega-3 food sources have become depleted. For example, omega-3 fatty acids have been stripped from whole grains to extend shelf life, and livestock are primarily fed grains instead of omega-3 rich grass. Our bodies need a certain amount of fat to build healthy cell and nerves, feed the brain, make hormones, and more.
Some guidelines for curtailing unhealthy omega-6 fats include avoiding:
- Anything out of a box
- Anything white (white flour, salt, sugar)
- Cereal grains
- Whole wheat bread
- Prepared tomato sauces (most use cottonseed oil)
- Vegetable oils (canola, corn, cottonseed, safflower, or soybean).
Things to add to your shopping cart:
- Coconut oil for cooking
- Collard greens
- Flax seeds (grind before use)
- Grass-fed beef
- Vegetables like squash