Is not eating enough fat making you fat, sluggish and depressed? What kind of a question is that you might wonder.

Haven’t we been told for last couple of decades that fat is bad for our cholesterol level, our heart health and for our waist line? Yes, unfortunately that’s exactly what we’ve been told. The advise to cut down on fat went nicely hand in hand with the mantra “calories in < calories out = weight loss”, because fat has more than twice the amount of calories compared to protein and carbohydrate.

Recent research has proven both, the low fat advice and the calorie-in-calorie-out mantra to be dead wrong. In 2015, the US has very silently removed the limit of dietary cholesterol from their dietary guidelines. The report says that “cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for over-consumption”. With the USA being among the countries with the highest obesity rates (35% of the population with a BMI above 30 in 2014), this decision will not have been made light heartedly.

I don’t want to go into what lead to the low fat advice and the resulting explosion in low fat products in the first place, I’d rather point you towards an aspect of fat that no one ever seems to talk about:

Cholesterol is the building block for all of our steroid hormones including all of our sex and adrenal hormones. In addition to the importance in the reproductive system and a healthy sex drive, our sex hormones also play a role in maintaining insulin sensitivity, having a feeling of well-being and healthy energy levels and they also appear to be involved in how we use fat. Well functioning adrenal glands are essential for healthy energy levels, feeling on top of the world, and having joy in life.

Another aspect of fat that is rarely talked about is that it helps us feel satisfied, so we can go longer periods of time without food. We are much less likely to reach for a sweet snack if the previous meal contained enough fat. This is also due to the fact that fat does not cause our blood sugar to rise and therefore helps with keeping insulin levels low.  If you cannot get from one meal to another without snacking, try adding more fat to your meal. This can have a very favourable impact on our waist line.

In short, healthy fats are critical for our hormone system (among other things) and help us with healthy weight management. Now hold your horses, I’m not saying go wild on fat. It’s important that you eat healthy fats and not just any fats.

Here are some healthy fats that can help you improve your health and how you feel. Combined with other healthy lifestyle choices, they can also help you lose weight.

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Extra virgin coconut oil (best with the coconut flavour and scent) – this is the best oil to use for cooking as it can withstand very high temperatures without going bad
  • Coconut cream
  • Butter from grass fed animals
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nuts and seeds (unsalted and unroasted)
  • Omega 3 fatty acids (best from small fish or high quality supplements)

Fats you should avoid include

  • Plant based oils, e.g. sunflower, safflower, canola, etc. (these are very sensitive to light and heat and often go rancid in the bottle before you even use them, they are also high in omega 6)
  • Margarine (margarine is plant based oil made spreadable and in the process very unhealthy transfats are created)
  • Products that are made with plant based oils or margarine (they are often used in baked goods because they are much cheaper than high quality butter)
  • Fried foods (again these are generally fried in cheap oils that should not be heated)

What you can do right now: take your shopping list and add some of the healthy fats. Also, go through your kitchen cabinets and clean them from any unhealthy fats that maybe lurking in there.

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