Health Tip #9 - Fats, with guest contributor Monica Parodi, MS RDN

Why I LOVE my Fats! - by Monica Parodi, MS RDN

You should probably be consuming more healthy fats. “But fat is evil,” you say, “because it raises cholesterol, causes heart disease and makes us fat.” You see low-fat or fat-free labels everywhere and are lead to believe these foods are the mecca of health. Do you remember your grandma cooking with low-fat, fat – free anything? Were generations before us significantly healthier and less chronically ill than ours? 

No. From the conception of the low-fat craze to today, we are more sick and overweight than ever before. We are consuming far more sugar and significantly less fat, and this is where it has gotten us. Fat is not the enemy. 

Here are some of fun facts and reasons why fats are so good for us and should be reintroduced to our daily diet:

  1. Brain power. Your brain is 60% fat! These are mainly omega -3 fats which is why I tend to recommend omega-3 supplementation. If you are thinking you are not deficient, research shows that about 99% of Americans are deficient in omega -3s, so that probably includes you. Omega-3 deficiency is linked to depression and anxiety while optimal omega-3 levels improve cognition, moods, and memory. 
  2. Reduces inflammation. Inflammation is the root of all chronic diseases (diabetes, obesity, and heart disease). The real drivers of inflammation include sugar and trans- fats. Low-fat diets mean more carbohydrates (aka sugar) are consumed. Excess sugar gets stored as fat. Trans-fats which are manmade fats also drive inflammation. If you are using I can’t believe it’s not butter instead of grass-fed butter, I’m looking at you.  But fat does not drive this inflammatory process, and actually comes in to heal inflammation. 
  3. Fats can make you lean. The right kinds of fats reduce cravings and help stabilize your blood sugar. Stable blood sugars mean your body does not store up unnecessary fat. Fats also increase fat burning which reduces fat storage. 
  4. Not all fats are created equal. Keep in mind here that I am not advocating for all fats. Vegetable oils and trans-fats are a no go, and actually promote inflammation. Saturated fats, as well as mono and polyunsaturated fats are a go. The fats in a fast food cheeseburger are not equal to the fats in a tablespoon of coconut oil. And if you are still worried about saturated fats, “a review of different research studies done on saturated fats published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no correlation between saturated fat and heart disease. “

So if you have been missing your beloved healthy fats, this is your permission slip to eat them again. 

My personal favorite fats include:

    • Avocados and nuts and seeds. I can easily eat an entire avocado in a meal without blinking an eye. And if you know me, almonds are a huge weakness for me and don’t last very long in my presence! 

You can also add these fats to the list of healthy fats:

    • Olive oil
    • Salmon and other fatty fish
    • Grass-fed meats and butter 
    • Extra virgin coconut butter or coconut oil 

In summary, I recommend consuming more healthy fats! I also suggest you read The Big Fat Surprise or follow Dr. Mark Hyman for even more knowledge and myth busting on the topic of fats. In the meantime, start falling in love with fats all over again! 

Notes from Carly:

Monica Parodi, MS RDN, is one of those inspiring friends that is a go-to for rich conversation and reliable info. I admire her work ethic, having seen it myself in school, and now again as working professionals. We keep up with one another via regular phone dates and texting… always keeping one another abreast of the latest interesting research or thoughts we’ve had. So, it was no surprise to her that I would ask her to write a guest article for my blog.

When I asked her if she would be interested in closing out our macronutrient series covering MyPlate, she jumped right in! My first response to her article was “whoa, she makes some bold statements!” I honestly love it. At first I disagreed her statement that Americans are

“consuming far more sugar and significantly less fat,”

based on research published by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines (1). This research from the USDA/FDA shows that Americans are consuming too little total fat, but too much solid/saturated fats. Monica counter-pointed that other research (2) not funded by the USDA shows we are indeed under-consuming fats, saturated fats included. I know this article topic is going to be controversial and I’m looking forward to the conversations that will emerge about the subject!

I have just two more tips to contribute to the topic of fats:

First, how much to consume. While recommendations and needs may vary, the average healthy adult should consume between 25-35% of their daily caloric intake from fats… mostly healthy fats. Note that fats are nine calories per gram.

Second, an intake CHALLENGE.

INTAKE CHALLENGE: Choose three healthy fats to incorporate into your day. An example might be a 1/2 an avocado on toast for breakfast, a handful of almonds (about 18 almonds is a healthy serving) for a mid-day snack, and salmon filet with dinner. Share your challenge success with #healthyfats and tag @carlymcooley and @parodimonica (on Instagram) and/or on facebook.com/CarlyCooleyRDN

Let us know your thoughts on the subject of fats. Monica and I will be happy to continue the discussion! 

For more information or your personalized recommendations, contact me to set up your initial nutrition consultation today!

References

1     U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf.

2 Monica’s:

On oils - http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1200303?viewType=Print&viewClass=Print&activeTab=comments&page=3&

On nuts - https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131120192145.htm

On saturated fat - http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/91/3/535.abstract

On cholesterol and heart attacks - https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090112130653.htm

On inflammation - https://www.healthysimplelife.com/inflammation-what-it-is-and-why-you-should-care-about-it/

Carly Cooley