Since When is Fat Healthy? + The Truth About Coconut Oil
For a long time fat was considered to be bad for you. When it comes to losing weight, reduced fat, low fat and no fat foods sound promising. We have been taught that fat is inherently bad in all of its forms; saturated, unsaturated, monosaturated, trans fats, all the fats. Our doctors told us that eating too much fat would raise our cholesterol levels which would eventually lead to clogged arteries, heart disease and the risk of a stroke.
You’re telling me to put a tablespoon of butter in my coffee? Eating a diet high in fat can help me lose weight? Fat actually lowers my cholesterol?
The answer is yes...sort of. Fat is not only good for you, but it is also essential to maintaining a healthy heart and overall wellbeing. Fat makes up one of the three macronutrients our bodies need in order to stay healthy.
The trick is to know and understand which of these fats are good (in moderation) and which of them should be avoided (in moderation).
Before you eat a whole avocado with every meal and guzzle down your bulletproof coffee, you need to understand that although some fats can be beneficial, moderation is still important. Just because coconut oil can improve brain and memory function doesn’t mean we should be eating it by the tablespoon. Too much of anything, even superfoods, can have a negative impact on your health.
There is no evidence to support the myth that dietary saturated fat can increase a person’s risk for heart disease or negatively impact cardiovascular health. Scientists have instead proven that eating a diet high in fat actually helps reduce bad cholesterol levels. Not only is fat internally good for you, but it has a number of external benefits as well.
Ideally you should eat less trans fats. These types of fat are typically found in fried foods and processed snacks. Trans fats aren’t so good for you because they raise LDL cholesterol, which can contribute to your risk of heart disease and stroke. They’re also wickedly addictive so even though the fat itself won’t cause you to gain weight or clog your arteries, it actually could if you eat too much too often.
Monosaturated fat and polyunsaturated fats are the healthier of the fat options, which when included in your diet (in moderation) can reap the body a number of wonderful benefits. Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats, however the body can’t produce them and instead we must turn to foods rich in these fats to get them. These fats are readily used by the body for energy and also help the body absorb and store vitamins and minerals. Fat also helps the body build cell membrane, and is essential for blood clotting and inflammation. These types of fat are found in vegetables, nuts, seeds and fish.
Now you’re probably wondering about coconut oil...
Recently coconut oil has been given a lot of praise for the number of internal and external remedies and benefits it can provide. Even more recently than that, coconut oil was once again demonized for being as unhealthy as beef fat and butter. Last year, the American Heart Association once again came out and stated that coconut oil is indeed bad for you, and everyone started (rightfully) freaking out. We’ve spent most of our lives listening to big corporations about which foods are good and which ones are bad for us. It’s normal that many people took what they said and believed it at face value. However, they were wrong.
Although coconut oil is a saturated fat, just like beef fat and butter, which has the potential to raise LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) it actually does a great job at also increasing HDL cholesterol (the good kind). Coconut oil has also shown to reduce body mass which in effect helps protect the heart from disease. Fifty percent of our body’s cell membrane is actually made of saturated fatty acids, meaning we actually need saturated fats to function at a healthy level. This is the same saturated fat that is found in cacao, ghee and grass fed cow bi-products.
In the end, what is important to remember is that no foods are good and no foods are bad. The truth is some foods are better and some foods are definitely worse. We need fat as much as we need protein and carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Now, let’s go make some Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup!