Lets talk about 20 Reasons Why Dietary Fats are Essential for Health
For decades we believed that ‘dietary fats’ in any form is bad news for our health. That fats cause to gain weight and contribute towards obesity and heart diseases. However the wellness industry has seen some significant changes and now almost all of the health food stores in North America have a section that is dedicated to fats. From Dr. Oz to Deepak Chopra – everyone is talking about Healthy Fats in your daily diet.
Low-fat diet is so 90’s! However Vegan, Paleo and High Fat- Low Carb diets are now on! Books, articles, blogs and videos all are promoting adding fat in your diet to become more energetic and lose weight.
However as a reader or a health enthusiast you must first know that ALL FATS ARE STILL NOT GOOD! You need to learn which fats are more beneficial and which ones to avoid.
Understanding the facts about fats before making a decision which fats you need for your individual lifestyle and which fats are right for your body type or Dosha. Ayurveda plays a crucial role in making us understand
- Which plant or animal based fats are best for optimal health
- Which foods and oils contain beneficial fats
- How to select oils for your individual constitution/body type/Dosha
- How much fat one needs to add to their daily diet
- Why fats in food and oils are important towards your wellbeing
- Which oils are good for cooking and which ones are good un-cooked
- How fats are amazing carriers of Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine.
- How sourcing and processing of the fats and oils matter
To learn more about fats and nutrition explore my culinary and nutrition program called “Ayurvedic Culinary and Nutrition Program for Optimal Health.” The above mentioned point are detailed in my Ayurvedic Culinary Program.
This blog will focus on understanding how to separate good fats from bad fats – meaning which fats are more beneficial to have in your daily diet and which ones are not suitable for consumption and why. Then I will get to the juicy bit and talk about the – 20 Reasons Why Dietary Fats are Essential for Health. Lastly, I will share with you what are the signs and symptoms of fat deficiency in the body.
Separating Healthy Fats from Unhealthy Fats:
Bad Dietary Fats:
- Artificially made Trans fats are fats and oils that are hydrogenated. The reason behind creating a market for hydrogenated oil was to increase shelf life by reducing rancidity. Hydrogenation is completed by combining liquid oils with hydrogen molecule. This process changes the chemical structure of the oil by turning the liquid oil into a solid. Consuming hydrogenated oils promotes chronic inflammation in the body. Inflammation can lead to diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart diseases, stroke, arthritis, dementia and cancer.
- Commercially produced, restaurant made, take outs, and pre-packaged foods often contain unhealthy trans-fat made with hydrogenated oils.
- Dairy products such as milk, cream, yogurt, and cheese also contain natural fats. However, if the cows were injected with hormones and antibiotics then the dairy foods obtained from them are unhealthy and so are the fats derived from the cows.
- Trans fats are also commonly found in margarine and shortening. Avoiding the two in regular diet and in the foods that you purchase (cookies, cakes, pastry etc.) is utmost important.
- Oils are the derived from genetically modified organisms or GMO plantations are best never consumed. Canola, Corn and Cotton Seed oils are currently high in GMO. I never purchase these oils for cooking. Also check the ingredient list of any products that contains the above oils. Restaurants, take out places even specialty grocery store deli – may prepare their foods using these oils as they are cheaper.
- Soy milk is also often derived from GMO soy crops. Therefore is best to avoid.
- Eggs that come from caged and industrialized farmed hens are not suitable fat or protein for good health. These animals are often raised in an unhygienic environment, fed GMO foods and been injected with hormones.
- There is some new research conducted about fats derived from fish oil. Although fish oils have been promoted for healthy for a couple of decades – the new research questions the health benefit from fish oils. I am more in favour of consuming fats that are vegetarian source or has been talked about in Ayurveda.
- All cooking oil made from hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
Good Dietary Fats:
- According to Ayurveda the BEST dietary fat comes from Ghee or butter oil. It reduces Vata and Pitta dosha individuals and balances Kapha dosha. To learn about ghee and why it is good for you click here.
- Unprocessed nuts and seeds such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecan, sunflower seeds pumpkin seeds etc. are excellent source of fats. However soak them in water (almonds overnight) for a minimum an hour before consuming.
- Olives, avocados and coconuts are also wonderful sources of natural fats.
- Cold pressed, extra virgin oils are great sources of fats – such as olive, flax seed, sesame, coconut, sunflower etc. However get to know which oils are more preferred for cooking and which ones are good for raw consumptions.
- Grass-fed, organic, un homogenized or raw milk (certified for consumption) derivatives such as butter, cream, full fat milk, yogurt, kefir, butter milk and cheese are better best sources of good saturated fat unless you have allergies or intolerance.
- Alternative – non-dairy milks such as almond and coconut are good sources of dietary fats.
- Eggs are great sources of saturated fats for vegetarians. Therefore, finding free range, cage free, organic and/or hormone free eggs are the best options.
- Fatty fish are also an amazing source of dietary fats.
- Ayurveda, Islamic Medicine and traditional/folk medicine highly promote fat consumption from Black Seed Oil or Nigella Seed Oil. Read my previous blog about Nigella Seed Oil. I personally take Nigella Seed Oil along with my entire family.
20 Reasons Why Dietary Fats are Essential for Health
- Fats are the best source of energy for the body that is derived from food.
- Fats that contain Medium Chain Fatty Acids (coconut oil) can assist with weight loss. Fats are more satiating than non-vegetable carbohydrates such as grains and sugars. Non-vegetable carbohydrates are the real cause of weight gain. The good fats can increase fat burning, reduce unhealthy cravings, and prevent fat unhealthy fat storage in the body. Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA is a fatty acid often used by the weight loss industry to reduce belly fat.
- Good sources of fats are also beneficial to gain weight when a person is underweight.
- Fats provide heat in the body and maintain the body temperature. The fat layer under our skin provides heat insulation.
- The calories obtained from fats can save excess protein being used as a fuel in the body.
- Healthy fats help to increase absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K as well as mineral absorption.
- Good fats convert carotene into vitamin A in the body. This is crucial for excellent eye sight.
- As per Ayurveda fat is an amazing lubricant that prevent dryness and dehydration. It is most suitable for Vata dosha individual as they often suffer from dryness on their skin and colon.
- Fats provide protective padding around our vital organs.
- Dietary healthy fats also protect our body from experiencing inflammation. This improves our immunity.
- Fats provide healthy building blocks for cell membranes and hormones. The body uses good fats from food to build cell walls. We have more than 10 trillion cells in the body and all of them require good fats in order to metabolize insulin. This can regulate healthy blood sugar levels.
- Fatty acids found in healthy fats such as caprylic acid (coconut oil) act as anti-viral substance and lauric acid has an anti-bacterial effect.
- Palmitic and stearic acids found in some fat rich foods can help lower cholesterol.
- Butyric acid found in some fats (ghee) may assist with reducing the risk of cancer.
- High quality and good dietary fat boosts cognition, memory, happiness and improves mental functions and learning abilities. Ayurveda believes this is due to the fact that fats help to nourish the bodily tissues especially the nerves.
- Fats such as ghee, castor oil and coconut oils lubricates the colon hence provides support digestion and elimination process.
- In Ayurveda oils and ghee are often used as a carrier of medicine due to their ability to absorb nutrients from the herbs. The fats are also known to carry the herbs effectively to the desired organ or tissue.
- Fat is an excellent source of food for pregnant women as it helps with developing the child’s brain.
- Healthy fat rich foods are also dense in nutrients such as Vitamin E, A, D, K and minerals such as calcium.
- Healthy fats promote endurance and flexibility which is amazing for people who work out or work long shifts in jobs that are physically demanding.
Signs and Symptoms of Fat Deficiency:
- Cracked, dry, scaly and flaky skin.
- Dandruff and itchy skin
- Allergic symptoms such as eczema, hay fever, asthma etc.
- Brittle, soft and easily cracked nails
- High PMS symptoms, tender or painful breasts and menstrual cramps in women
- Dryness in vagina
- Excessive ear wax.
- Frequent thirst
- Stiff joints or joint pains
- Poor concentration/focus and poor memony
- Poor vision – especially night vision
- Emotional imbalances such as mood swings, depression and anxiety
- Difficulty falling asleep and waking up