OK In Health - Healing Yourself Naturally

Health Benefits of Good Fats - June 2022

By Dr. Melissa Bradwell

Very rare does a day go by in my office where I am not discussing the importance of ‘good’ fats to my patients. More and more often, I am seeing the detrimental effects that a no or low fat diet has had on a person’s body and health. 

 In a society where sadly, size has certainly come to matter, a lot of emphasis has been placed on reducing fat from the diet, but without much information on how important ‘good’ fats are and why we still need them.

 

 

What is the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats?

To understand good and bad fats, you first need to know the different categories and some information about each of them.

 

 

Effect on body

Some Sources

Monounsaturated fats

  • Reduces LDL levels (bad cholesterol)
  • Increases HDL (good cholesterol)
  • Decreases risk of heart disease/diabetes

 

Olive oil, avocados, nuts and nut butters

Polyunsaturated fats

Flaxseed, fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines).

Saturated fats

  • Increases risk of heart disease
  • Increases LDL cholesterol

High fat meats, cheese, lard, ice cream.

Trans fats

Fried foods, processed/packaged foods.

Fats and your Cholesterol

When I ask people about their cholesterol levels, I’m often faced with a look of shock when I tell them there are actually 2 types of cholesterol. ‘Good’ or HDL cholesterol that carries cholesterol from artery walls and delivers it to the liver for disposal and ‘bad’ or LDL cholesterol that accumulates in and potentially clogs artery walls. Achieving an optimal ratio between the two is ideal. Omega 3 Fatty acids (such as fish or flaxseed oil), along with other sources of ‘good’ fats help to increase the ‘good’ cholesterol, which not only improves the cholesterol ratio in the body but also works as a protective agent against numerous diseases and health concerns.

Cholesterol and Hormones

Hormones are made from cholesterol so when we concentrate on a no-fat diet, there is often not enough ‘good’ cholesterol to make hormones, which causes a disruption in hormone synthesis.  Ensuring optimal levels of cholesterol can help to treat conditions caused by hormone imbalance in both men and women (PMS, infertility, menopause, low testosterone etc).  In pre-menopausal women, cholesterol levels may actually increase as the body’s natural response to declining hormone levels and attempting to make more. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

This polyunsaturated fat, as we know, is highly beneficial for prevention and reduction of depression symptoms, protection against memory loss, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, reducing inflammation and supporting a health pregnancy. This essential fatty acid is essential for good health, but your body can’t make it and therefore, needs to be obtained through food.

The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, or sardines, or high-quality cold-water fish oil supplements.  A dietary intake of 2 servings a week or 1-2g/day of total omega 3’s is recommended.

 

Dietary Tips

Increase good, unsaturated fats in your diet. Fat gives food its flavor so most non-fat, low-fat foods are often replaced with sugar, refined carbohydrates and calories. Be heart smart and still maintain your waistline with these tips:

  • Cook with olive oil. Use olive oil for stovetop cooking, rather than butter or margarine
  • Make better butter. Whisk together ½ lb of butter with 1/2 cup of olive oil and place in an airtight container in the fridge. Will remain soft and perfectly spreadable.
  • Eat more avocados. Try them in sandwiches (instead of mayo), salads or make guacamole.
  • Reach for the nuts. High in protein and good fats. Opt for the unroasted kind as you’ll lose some oils in the roasting process.
  • Snack on olives. Olives are high in healthy monounsaturated fats and make for a low-calorie snack when eaten on their own.
  • Dress your own salad. Commercial salad dressings are often high in saturated fat or made with damaging trans fat oils. Create your own healthy dressings with high-quality, cold-pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil, or sesame oil as the base.

 




Dr. Melissa BradwellDr. Melissa's Bio: Raised in Kamloops, BC, Dr. Bradwell graduated from CCNM in Toronto and returned home to work as a Naturopathic Physician in 2006. She offers a variety of services and treatment options for her patients, including IV therapy, acupuncture, botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hormone and allergy testing. Dr. Bradwell is now practicing downtown Kamloops, she can be reached at (250) 374-9700. - Dr. Melissa Bradwell Website - Email


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