Like me, you may have experienced years of fat-free brainwashing, along with many Americans. We were told that all fats were bad and to avoid them at all costs. After I gained the freshman 15, I did a summer of Weight Watchers with my parents (good times, I know…)—fat-free yogurt, egg whites, skim milk, fat-free fudge pops, and grilled lean chicken were mainstays in my diet. When I showed up to the weigh-in on Saturdays, coffee loaded with Splenda and skim milk in hand, I thought I was doing the right thing. I didn’t even know what healthy fats were.
I was misinformed and absolutely wrong. Fast forward to today and my diet is loaded with healthy fats, which science has proven are actually good for you. It can be hard to de-program yourself from the idea that fat is bad, but the health benefits of eating fat are well worth it.
Fats help you to feel satiated, maintain steady energy, and help with weight control, plus they are so much more delicious and nourishing than nasty ‘diet’ foods. Healthy fats serve the body well and aid in hormonal balance , brain health, metabolism, blood sugar regulation, and help to improve hair, skin and nail quality.
60 percent of our brain is made up of fat. The fat we eat directly feeds our brain and can aid neurological functions, lower bad cholesterol, and help you shed excess weight. Try these foods to up your intake of healthy fats.
Coconut is rich in lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid also found in human breast milk (i.e. super nourishing). It helps to boost immunity and fight off bad bacteria. Coconut butter differs from coconut oil (another great source of healthy fats) because it contains the oil and the coconut meat, which means you get valuable fiber along with healthy fat. Coconut butter is great added to smoothies, or blend with hot water and one teaspoon of cacao powder for a creamy, warm drink.
Salt lovers, rejoice! Olives are good for you. They are loaded with antioxidants and monounsaturated fat in the form of oleic acid, which has been shown to decrease inflammation , aid in cardiovascular health , encourage weight loss and may even help to fight certain types of cancer . When buying olives, it’s best to avoid buying them in cans and opt for the olive bar or glass jar instead. Toss them in salads and keep them in the fridge for a quick snack, or check out these portable ones for an on-the-go snack.
Saturated fat, which is found in animal protein , used to be the enemy due to the misbelief that it had detrimental effects on cardiovascular health. Now, research is proving there is no correlation between saturated fat and coronary heart disease. Wild salmon, pasture raised whole eggs, and grass-fed beef are all examples of high-quality animal protein that can be part of a healthy diet.
Raw nuts and seeds are an easy, portable snack, which makes this healthy fat perfect if you’re busy, or if you need something shelf-stable at your desk. Walnuts, almonds, pecans, brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, sunflower, hemp, chia and pumpkin seeds are all great options. Nuts and seeds help to keep your blood sugar stable and are loaded with protein, vitamins, and minerals. Add them to smoothies, salads and meals. You can even keep a small container of raw walnuts or cashews in your bag as an emergency food (i.e. when you’re in a situation where there’s nothing you want to eat).
Ghee is clarified butter, which comes from traditional Indian cuisine. In the clarification process, almost all of the lactose, sugar, casein, and protein are removed. If you have a dairy sensitivity, you’ll likely tolerate ghee well since it has no lactose or casein. Ghee is a great source of retinol and vitamin K2. Sautee your eggs and veggies in it, use in place of butter in recipes, and even add it to your smoothie. To start your morning with a healthy fat, add one teaspoon of ghee to my Famous Morning Glory Coffee recipe .
Ready to start cooking with healthy fats today? These are some of our favorite recipes that are high in healthy fats and will help promote shiny hair and healthy nails.
Dr. Robin Berzin is the founder and CEO of Parsley Health. A Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Robin completed medical school at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and trained in Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.