12 Months to a Healthier You! (Month 7)

Month 7: Fuel Yourself With Healthy Fats

Fat has gotten a bad reputation over the years. We were told in the 1980s to avoid fats in an effort to protect ourselves from cardiovascular disease. What resulted was an American population that got hooked on processed carbohydrates and sugar, and a subsequent, dramatic increase in obesity. In addition, according to the CDC, cardiovascular disease remains the #1 cause of death in the United States!

New research (and a re-examination of old research) has shown us that fats are not the foe we once thought them to be. In fact, a study of 48,000 women over the course of 7 years revealed that low-fat diets did not lead to increased weight loss or decreased disease1.

The key to dietary fat intake is getting the right types of fat. Consuming foods containing fats that are high in Omega 6 fatty acids will increase inflammation, while eating those that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids will reduce inflammation. Ideally, we need a balance of both. Eating whole foods will naturally provide a good balance. However, consuming processed foods gives us a higher amount of Omega 6’s in relation to Omega 3’s.

Foods High in Omega 3’s (eat more of these!)

  • Wild caught fish (especially salmon)
  • Grass-fed animal products (meat, butter, eggs, dairy)
  • Certain nuts and seeds

Foods High in Omega 6’s (eat fewer of these)

  • Processed oils like corn, safflower, cottonseed, & soybean
  • Grain-fed animal products
  • Processed, pre-packaged foods

If you focus on getting 80% of your diet from real, whole foods, you will naturally consume the right types of fats. Summer is a great time to explore all of the wonderful fruits and vegetables that are in season. Make friends with a local farmer who raises grass-fed animals and source your meat and dairy from them. For information about a farmer near you, visit: http://www.eatwild.com/. You will be surprised how much better you feel consuming low-inflammatory oils that are present in real food.

1. Howard BV, Manson JE, Stefanick ML, Beresford SA, Frank G. Low-fat dietary pattern and weight change over 7 years: the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial. JAMA. 2006 Jan 4;295(1):39-49.