Healthy Fats & the Paleo Diet
There are so many health advantages to eating more good quality fats, getting fewer calories from carbohydrates, and moving towards a vegetable-based diet. The principles here are commonly referred to as the “Paleo diet”, a food plan where there is a conscious shift away from whole grains and legumes. As with all food choices, quality is important when choosing fats and oils, so make sure to choose the right types and also the freshest packaging to avoid rancid oils.
Below are some reasons that fats can be so beneficial:
1.) Satisfaction: fats are digested quite slowly when compared to carbs or protein. Because the digestive process takes longer to metabolize fat, you stay satisfied longer. During this process, fat in the stomach triggers the release of satiety hormones that tell your brain that it can pause the hunger signaling process.
2.) Energy: fats are efficient energy and a more sustained source of energy than carbohydrates. The brain can adapt to run in a much higher performance state when fat ketones become available as a energy source.
3.) Fat-soluble Vitamins: Essential vitamins A, D, E and K cannot be absorbed without having fat present in the diet. For example, eating steamed vegetables or salad without any fat source means these fat-soluble vitamins from the vegetables cannot effectively be absorbed.
4.) Cell Health: Fats play a structural role forming the membrane of every cell in the body. This cell membrane is made up of phospholipids which are about 1/2 saturated fat, when in optimal health.
5.) Fat-soluble Nutrients: Fat-based lipoproteins are used in the body to transport fat, cholesterol, vitamins E and K in the blood. These lipoproteins carry essential nutrients to cells and organs where they are needed for life functions.
6.) Protection: Although it sounds simple, it is important to have a fat layer to protect and support our organs and additionally to prevent skin wrinkling and dehydration.
7.) Anti-inflammatory Effects: Omega-3 fats, such as EPA and DHA have been shown in countless studies to have an anti-inflammatory effect.
8.) Anti-microbial: Certain types of fat, including lauric and caprylic acid, actually help kill bacteria, viruses and fungal overgrowth. These types of fat can be found in coconut oil and palm kernel oil.
9.) Blood Sugar: Getting a dose of fat along with carbohydrate at meals helps to stabilize the blood sugar as the carbohydrate is digested. The presence of fat allows for a slow release of glucose (blood sugar) into circulation.
9.) Taste: Last, but not least, fats make everything taste better. Bland veggies can be transformed into buttery deliciousness. With the addition of nourishing fats, a healthy diet is easy to follow because it becomes more satisfying and enjoyable. Children may actually eat their Brussels sprouts when served with coconut oil, ghee or butter.
With all the good reasons to eat healthy fats, you may be wondering, what are the best sources of fat? Below is a list to get you started.
Ghee (clarified butter)
MCT Oil (coconut oil extract)
Schmaltz (chicken fat)
Coconut meat and milk
Egg yolks (pastured)
Fish (cold water, fatty fish)
Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
Processed Fats to Avoid:
soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, peanut oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, margarine and other spreads, shortenings or hydrogenated oils, commercial mayonnaise and salad dressings.
Tips on getting fat at each meal:
1.) Choose fatty cuts of grass-fed or pastured meats. However, avoid high fat cuts of conventionally raised meats because of their high pro-inflammatory omega-6 content.
2.) Eat pastured eggs regularly (with the yolks).
3.) Using generous amounts of ghee, lard from grass-fed cows or coconut oil to cook food (or add after cooking).
4.) Add butter or ghee to vegetables.
5.) Add avocado to salads.
6.) Include bones and bone marrow when making stews.
7.) Prepare curries with coconut milk or coconut cream.
8.) Eat bacon (ideally nitrate-free and from pastured pigs or wild boar).
9.) Dip foods in homemade mayo (made at home with healthy oils) or guacamole.
10.) Add extra virgin olive oil, macadamia oil or homemade salad dressings made with healthy fats.
Note: If your gallbladder function is impaired or if you were previously eating a low-fat diet, gradually increase fat intake. Over time, the digestive system will adjust by secreting adequate amounts of digestive enzymes and bile. In some cases, people will benefit from digestive enzymes and/or ox bile to facilitate fat digestion.