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Get the Skinny on Healthy Fats

Most people are terrified of fat.  The carbohydrate-based, low-fat, and no-fat craze has been in full swing for over 20 years and Americans are in no better physical health than they were 30 years ago.  In truth, diabetes and obesity are still on the upswing.

Fact – there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.

Fact – there are essential fatty acids that the human body requires to be healthy.

The outer layer of every cell in the body is a fat layer. Fat is an essential part of cell construction allowing the cells to absorb the required nutrients for survival. Without a regular intake of good, healthy fats your health will suffer.

Common symptoms of fatty acid deficiency include:

Mood swings and depression
Joint Pain
Brittle and cracked fingernails and toenails
Hair loss
Skin problems such as eczema
Fatigue
Thyroid problems and/or immunity problems
Vitamin deficiencies of vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are all fat-soluble vitamins
(sources University of Maryland MC, Livestrong, Fitday)

Okay, so what should you eat to add healthy fats to your diet? Below are some of the most nutrient-rich sources of good healthy fats.

Avocados contain over 20 vitamins and minerals including beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and B6. The monounsaturated fats in avocados are known to aid in anti-inflammation and promote heart health.
(read more here)

Salmon is a great source of protein as well as healthy, omega-3 fatty acids. The modern diet is lacking in omega-3 fatty acids in relation to the amount of omega-6 fatty acids we get from corn, seed oils, and meats fed on grains.

Sardines, as an alternative to salmon, offer many of the same health benefits without the mercury risks of salmon and other large fish.

Olives and olive oil provide monounsaturated fatty acids that have been shown to lower your cholesterol levels, benefit insulin and blood sugar levels, and normalize blood clotting.

Nuts – particularly walnuts, hazelnuts, butternuts, and almonds – are rich in unsaturated fats, Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, and L-arginine. They help lower cholesterol, help prevent the development of plaques in your arteries, and generally improve your heart health. (Source Mayo Clinic)

Coconut Oil is largely composed of saturated fat, which is generally considered “bad”, but the fatty acid profile of coconut oil is unique in that it primarily consists of special fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs have been linked to improved metabolism (improved body fat composition), improved cholesterol ratio levels, and even improved resistance to infection. (more on coconut oil here)

Whole Eggs were not so long ago considered a poor choice for maintaining a healthy cholesterol level. It is now largely agreed upon that dietary cholesterol has very little impact on blood cholesterol levels. Recent studies show that egg consumption has little or no effect on your overall blood cholesterol level (source). Eggs are a great source of protein, vitamin A, many B vitamins, potassium, and are considered good for the health of the nervous system and the brain.

Don’t be afraid to consume healthy fats, but stay away from manufactured foods that often contain trans-fatty acids or are high in Omega-6 fatty acids. Healthy, natural fats are not only good for you – they are essential to your health.

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