Fat often gets a bad rap because it is perceived by the masses, to be the number one culprit of weight gain. But don’t be afraid of fat, because all fats are not created equal.
Eating the right fats is extremely
“Eat your fish. It’s ‘brain food.” Sound familiar? Guess what. That is actually a whole lot more than an old wives tale.
So, if anybody ever calls you a fathead, take it as a compliment, because they’re telling the truth. 60% of your brain is fat ~ mostly Omega-3 fats, that come from sardines and wild salmon.
Here are some of the many ways fat contributes to good health:
- Provides Energy for Your Body ~ Each gram of fat provides nine calories of energy for your body, making fat the most efficient source of food energy. This enables you to make the most of your Zumba sessions or other favorite workouts, and all of your daily activities.
- Healthy Cell Membrane Production ~ Every membrane that surrounds each cell in your body needs fat. Fat is a crucial part of proper cell function.
- Supports cognitive brain functions ~ Cognitive brain function means, the ability to work with information in a meaningful way, to apply information that has already been gained, to perform preferential changes, and the ability to change opinions about that information. Fat enables your brain to carry messages faster.
- Helps your intestines absorb nutrients like Vitamin A, D, E and K.
- Regulates Sex Hormones ~ Your sex hormones are made out of fat-like testosterone and estrogen. Fats regulate the production of sex hormones.
- Lowers the bad form of cholesterol (LDL) and raises the good cholesterol (HDL).
- Lowers triglycerides
Triglycerides are defined as the major form of fat stored in the body consisting of 3 molecules of fatty acids combined with a molecule of alcohol glycerol. Elevated triglyceride levels are considered to be a risk for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) because many of the triglycerides contain lipoproteins that transport fat in the bloodstream also transport cholesterol, which is a known contributor to atherosclerosis. Triglycerides also cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).
- Enhances fitness, sports and daily activities performance by powering up muscles.
- There are also powerful anti-inflammatories in certain fats, like Omega-3 fats and the fats in coconut butter.
- Fats make your food taste good.
Dr. Mark Hyman is Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and maintains his own practice dedicated to tackling the root causes, cures and remedies of chronic diseases. Dr. Mark Hyman is also an expert consultant for the Plate By Zumba program.
Here’s how Dr. Mark Hyman breaks it down . . .
“The Plate by Zumba program includes a variety of healthy fats that you can mix in with your meals and stock your pantry with.
So learn to use them. It can be as simple as grabbing a handful of nuts, opening a can of wild salmon or taking a spoonful of creamy coconut butter from the jar, or using a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil for your veggies or your salad.
Focus on the good fats, which provide nourishment and fiber for all your meals.
When you are using packaged foods to lose wight, improve cholesterol levels, or diabetes, make sure you choose food package items with no more than 5 grams of fat per serving.
Let’s begin with . . .
Eat Walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts.
[Please don’t eat anything you’re allergic to.]
Nuts are a wonderful source of protein. They’re full of fiber and minerals and great fats. Nuts satisfy your appetite and they reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Keep bulk nuts tightly sealed and isolated in the fridge or pantry because they can go rancid.
Watch portion sizes ~ just a handful ~ about 10 – 12 nuts is sufficient. Don’t eat the whole bag.
Nuts are great to enjoy many ways. Buy raw, or lightly toasted, unsalted nuts. But avoid fried, cooked in oil and heavily salted nuts.
Nut Butters are a great snack, as well. Whole Foods has the nut butter grinder. There, you can grind your own nut butter. But, NOT PEANUT BUTTER, PLEASE. Peanut butter is more inflammatory and contains a naturally occurring fungus toxin called aflatoxin.
Peanuts are actually not even nuts. Peanuts are actually beans or legumes. They contain inflammatory Omega-6 fats. Minimize your consumption of peanuts.
Eat zinc rich pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.
Hemp seeds and chia seeds are powerful superfoods. They are a great source of minerals, fibers and Omega-3 fats.
Seeds are great to add to salads, bean or grain dishes, you can put them in a shake or just enjoy a handful.
Coconut oil is an extraordinary superfood. This is one example of a healthy saturated fat. In fact, it’s about 92% saturated fat. But while it raises the good cholesterol (HDL), it increases the life of bad cholesterol (LDL) particles.
Nevertheless, coconut oil contains a special type of oil called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) , which s a powerful performance enhancing fat that powers up your muscles for your workouts and powers up your brain cells. MCT also enhances sports performance because your cells run better on this special type of super fuel.
Coconut oil also contains a special kind of anti-inflammatory saturated fat called lauric acid, which is also found in breast milk.
Omega-3 Fats [Very Important]
There are two kinds of Omega 3 fats. There is the type from plants, called alphalinolenic acid (ALA), found in
These Omega 3’s are good, but these actually have to be converted by your body into the type of fat that your body needs most, which is called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) [You don’t have to remember the long version ~ the acronyms are important when you are reading labels, tho. You want to opt for Omega 3’s that include the EPA and DHA.]
Only about 10% of the ALA from the above-named foods, gets converted into EPA and DLA, which is actually what your body needs the most.
The more desirable, pre-formed EPA and DHA are found only in wild, fatty fish like sardines and wild salmon and in wild and grassfed meat. These fats are critical for the function of every cell in the body and they make up the cell membranes of every one of your 10 trillion cells and they make up about 60% of your brain tissue.
- Mood boosters
- Brain healers
- Heart protectors
- Lower your triglycerides
- Reverse diabetes.
So, you really need these. Make sure you get them in our diet and perhaps even use a supplement.
Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats.
In small doses, certain types of unrefined Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats are necessary. These are natural vegetable oils that have not been chemically processed.
Unfortunately, mainstream supermarkets flood our shelves with polyunsaturated vegetable oils of really poor quality. These refined oils include most commercially available cooking oils. Some examples include
It’s okay to have a little of these oils in small amounts IF you use expellar or cold pressed versions. It’s actually necessary to have the above in small amounts.
Expellar or unrefined processed oils we can use, and still maintain optimal wellness and health include . . .
High oleic sunflower oil
High oleic safflower oil
Still, these fats are unstable. So, you have to be careful. They can easily go rancid and they can be damaged when heated. So, keep them in the fridge and don’t cook over high heat.
Also, make sure your oils don’t smoke when you cook them, because that turns them into oxydized, dangerous fats.
Monounsaturated Fats are found mostly in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, avocado or some nuts.
Olives and olive oil are rich in monounsaturated fats and full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, polyphenol and phytonutrients.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the main oil you should use in your diet.
You can put EVOO in salads or you can pour it over vegetables. You can even cook with it, BUT ONLY ON LOW TEMPERATURES.
For high temperature cooking, use coconut oil.
STAY AWAY FROM
Refined Polyunsaturated Vegetable Oils including
In fact, soybean oil comprises 10% of calories in our diet, and it’s pretty toxic.
Most of these fats are extracted in high heats which damages their fragile fatty acids. They are also hydrogenated, which results in a longer shelf life at the expense of our health.
So, in summary,
We humans, except for extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), have never eaten these refined oils until the last 100 years, and it has created an imbalance between the Omega 6 and the Omega 3 fats.
So, when considering Omega 6 fats, avoid processed oils for the most part, except for a little in stirfry dishes, or a little in light cooking.
Keep in mind that when it comes to healthy eating, quantity and quality matter.”
So, how much fat should you use?
Basic answer, 20 – 35% of your calories should come from fat. For more specific guidelines, visit CalorieKing.com
5 grams of fat per serving = approx 1 teaspoon
3 grams or less per serving is considered low fat.
Read your labels when shopping for groceries. That’s how you will know how many grams of fat a single serving of packaged food contains. Make sure you get the quantity PER SERVING. If there are two or three servings per package, the calories indicated can be doubled or tripled.
Remember: Please don’t eat anything you’re allergic to.
That wraps it up for now. Until next time, Bon apetit!
OKAY! “LET’S HIT IT!”
This article is a compilation of information, predominantly based on Dr. Mark Hyman’s narrative on Healthy Fats in the Plate By Zumba program.
Brenda Jeanne Wyche, Certified Plate By Zumba Nutrition Coach and Author/Compiler of Zumba Complete ~ A Guide To Healthy Eating, is Founder and President of Physniques Fitness. Additionally, Brenda is a Group Fitness Instructor, Certified by the City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation, Licensed Zumba Instructor and active member of the ZIN ~ Zumba Instructor Network . Brenda is a martial artist and has facilitated comprehensive physical fitness and wellness programs, including Qigong, to New York City Parks and Recreation Centers throughout New York City, including Shape Up NYC. Brenda has also facilitated workshops at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum for Women’s Health and Fitness day, Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture for Nettie Paisley’s Southern Comforts Holistic Health and Wellness Expo, and more. Brenda has recently relocated to Los Angeles, CA and endeavors to continue building her practice in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and beyond.
Mark Hyman, M.D. ~ Doctor, Author
Dr. Mark Hyman is a family physician and eight time #1 New York Times bestselling author. Dr. Hyman in internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator and advocate for REAL, whole, unprocessed foods. He is also Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. Dr. Hyman has dedicated his career to identifying and addressing the root causes of chronic illness through a groundbreaking, whole systems approach known as Functional Medicine.
The information herein is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any kind. Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional or exercise program and always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding any medical condition.
And please don’t eat anything you’re allergic to.
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