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Healthy Fats

 

Fat is good for you.

Coconut oil has been getting a lot of attention lately, but after 30 years of being told otherwise, you still might have a hard time wrapping your head around the fact that fat can be good for you.

We are made of fats! Fat cells make up our bone marrow and are stored in our lungs, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, and intestines. Our brain cells are made of fats called lipids and our hormones are made of lipids too. Lipids are an essential part of our immune systems and they reduce inflammation. They form the boundaries of each of our cells and, in fact, our cells can’t communicate with each other without lipids. Our bile (remember that from the last lesson?), which helps us break down the food we eat and absorb nutrients, is derived from lipids. Lipids are necessary for us to absorb and transport fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Plus, our ‘body fat‘ -which, by the way, is actually necessary for storing energy, maintaining blood sugar levels, cushioning our skeleton, and keeping us warm- is of course made of fat.

Every year, ten percent of our fat cells die and are replaced. In other words, we need to make a lot of new fat cells every year. Some of this fat we can make ourselves, but certain essential lipids can only be obtained through diet. We need fats in our diets to survive!

What does this have to do with hormones?

Our hormones are made of fats called lipids. Lipids are necessary for hormone production (we can’t make our hormones without fats). A moderate amount of healthy fats daily helps us regulate hormone production.

Studies in cisgender males have shown that consumption of saturated fats (like meat and dairy) and monounsaturated fats (like olive oil) may increase testosterone production.

Studies in cisgender women have shown that saturated fats (especially from meat and dairy raised with hormones) can increase estrogen levels. However, coconut oil and avocadoes, which contain a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats, can decrease estrogen levels.

Overall, focusing on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats -especially omegas- and avoiding hydrogenated and trans fats is the best option.

Remember the last lesson, on fiber?

Bile is produced by the liver to help us digest fats. After it has done its job, bile binds to fiber in our digestive system which allows them to be secreted together, taking toxins and excess hormones with them. Eating a fatty low-fiber meal prevents this process from happening properly. For proper hormone regulation you must include BOTH healthy fats and fiber in each meal.

Which fats to eat:

YES! Non-hydrogenated monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats:

  • Sunflower, hazelnut, olive, safflower, avocado, cottonseed, peanut, sesame, and canola oils
  • Macadamias, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and other nuts and seeds
  • Olives, avocadoes
  • Herring, salmon, mackerel, albacore, tuna, trout, goose, duck
  • Fish oil and cod liver oil supplements

YES! to certain saturated fats:

  • Coconut oil, coconut, and coconut milk, palm oil, avocado oil and avocadoes
  • Organic grass-fed dairy and meat products

NO to other saturated fats:

  • Dairy and meat raised with hormones
  • Processed meats like hot dogs, spam, processed jerky, deli meat, and salami

NO Trans fats and NO hydrogenated fats (trans fats are illegal now, but the FDA has given companies a few years to comply with the law):

  • Margarine, shortening, fast food, tv dinners, store-bought pastries and cookies, deep fried foods, many pre-packaged and freezer foods
  • Check the ingredients! Labels list hydrogenated fats under the ingredients and trans fats under the nutrition facts.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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