Butter (+ 28 of the best healthy fats)
There’s a lot of buzz out there about fat—especially “healthy fats.”
More and more, it’s becoming a widely accepted concept that “eating fat is good for you.”
- You see advertisements for Blue Diamond Almonds claiming to be a healthy fat.
- Magazine covers tease stories that read “Fatty Foods That Are Healthy for You” and “We Were Wrong About Saturated Fats”
- Bulletproof coffee is all the rage right now (coffee + butter + MCT coconut oil)
And the latest findings, according to a recent study this summer?
BUTTER IS GOOD FOR YOU
Finally America is catching on!
Earlier this year, Time Magazine released a report about a study that analyzed nine papers (which included more than 600,000 people) and concluded that consuming butter is not linked to a higher risk for heart disease and might be slightly protective against type 2 diabetes.
Similar to when humans first discovered the world was not flat, the “fat is good for you” phenomenon looks like it’s here to stay for awhile on the nutrition scene.
For all of the low-fat, no-fat, My Fitness Pal logging, Special K-eating adherents, it’s still a tough concept to wrap their brains around.
- But why?!?!
- Why are fats really good for you?
- How could butter be better than ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’?
- How does fat NOT make you fat?! The word ‘fat’ itself is not a comforting word to hear”….
Natural healthy fats have been around for years.
Long before “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” and Reduced Fat Skippy Peanut Butter, fat free Ranch, fat-free cheese, egg whites in a carton, Half & Half, Smart Balance and PB2 dry low-fat peanut butter, fat free ground turkey, there was real butter, real eggs, real cream, coconut oil, lard, avocados, olives, raw nuts and seeds, real milk, real…everything, and human kind evolved and existed without the sky-rocketing numbers of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, brain disease, mental illness and other chronic diseases we hear about on the news today.
Then enter: the 1990’s low-fat craze, and Food Guide Pyramid’s push to ‘limit’ our fats and oils, while amping up the heart healthy grains, low fat dairy and lean meats, and Americans began to developing fat phobia—including me.
I get it.
For years I rode that same train too:
Meticulously monitoring my fat intake in anything –from the 1 gram of fat in my chicken breast, the 0.5 grams in my yogurt, the 2 grams in my low-fat sugar-free salad dressing, the 0.5 grams in my broccoli or the 4 grams of fat in my scant ½ tablespoon of peanut butter (I only allowed myself if I worked out extra hard).
I feared butter, egg yolks, mayo, fatty cuts of meat, olive oil, coconut oil.
I was certain these foods would make me fat—or at least “weak” if I ate them.
The thing is, when we choose fat-free and low-fat foods, we deprive our bodies of an essential nutrient important for our metabolism, our hormones, our digestion and brain function.
- Brain fog happens.
- Infertility or CRAZY PMS happens.
- Skin breakouts happen.
- We are lower in energy.
- We experience bloating, constipation and gas.
- We are hungrier or get ‘hangry’ and don’t know why.
- We think about food more often (our brains are not satiated).
- We crave sugar, sweets and/or caffeine.
- We try to ‘meet our needs’ through more ‘low fat’ grains and lean protein and sugary substitutes.
- We hold onto body fat (the body is in ‘deprivation’ mode from lack of fat)
Soooo….we hear “fat is good for you” or “fat doesn’t make you fat”…but the big question still is WHY?
How (Eating) Fat Works
“Eating fat makes you fat” is a lie.
Eating fat actually does the opposite (it turns your body into “fat burning” mode) when we consume enough and good quality fats.
Since fat is the NUMBER ONE energy source for our body (9 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram for carbs and proteins), the body turns to fat first (when available) to fire up its metabolism and chemical processes.
That avocado, coconut oil or butter go to work, and their fatty acids:
- Feed your brain cells and boost brain power (clear thinking)
- Fight off inflammation (anti-inflammatory)
- Assist in the digestion and elimination of your other foods and nutrients
- Create and maintain healthy hormones
- Fuel your muscles with energy
- Keep you nourished (decrease crazy cravings or obsessive thoughts about food)
- And balance blood sugar from crazy ups and downs
Fat in our food does ALL of these things before the body even thinks about “storing (excess) fat as fat” (energy for later).
When we eat fat, our body is awakened. It’s reminded that it prefers fat for energy, function, and vitality (feeling good).
“So what causes the fat on my thighs, waist or underarms then!?” you ask.
One word: Stress.
And where does this “stress” come from?
When we look to your dietary choices alone, three common stressors include:
- Sugar (excess carbohydrates; more than your bod needs)
- Hydrogenated Oils (i.e. process, refined and packaged foods)
- Low-fat Diets
Low fat diets, in particular, stress your body out, sending it into “deprivation” mode, neglected of its preferred fuel source (fat). And when our bodies are deprived, cortisol (the stress hormone) goes up.
And when cortisol goes up, it craves sugar, slows metabolism and holds onto fat.
Things only get MORE complicated, since our hormones are made directly FROM FAT.
Unfortunately, when we stick to a low fat diet, or restrict fats in favor of “healthier” options (like fat free margarine, or more broccoli and chicken—without any avocado or butter), our hormones do crazy things, like:
- Drop estrogen levels
- Spike insulin (the ‘fat storage’ hormone)
- And perpetuate the “cortisol conundrum” (keep cortisol high)
The bottom line?
Fat does a body good. Here’s a quick-hit list of what fat is good for:
13 Reasons Fat is Good For You
- Energy. The body’s preferred #1 source of energy! Eating fats gives you lasting power!
- Boosts metabolism (& Burns Body Fat). Makes everything work faster, smarter and more efficiently.
- Brain Function. Clear thinking, Alzheimer’s prevention, brain power. Win. Win. Win.
- Power for Workouts. More and more athletes are turning to the power of fats for fueling their performance for long lasting power and gains in their efforts. This translates to conquering and battling all the stressors you encounter in your day requiring a ‘power output’—from your 9-5 job, raising 3 (crazy) kids, life stress and more.
- Tastes Really Good. Duh. Everything tastes better with fat.
- Wards Off Sugar Cravings. Fat is satisfying. It signals to your body appropriate fullness since there is a lot of energy in a little bit. It helps keep your sugar-monster at bay, by keeping your blood sugar balanced.
- Thriving Hormones & Cholesterol. Hormones and cholesterol are made from fats—healthy fats—and so when we are deprived of these, our body gets out of balance, leading things like: inflammation (and ‘unhealthy’ cholesterol, hormonal imbalances, infertility, thyroid issues, lowered libido, amennorhea, irregular cycles and crazy PMS(.
- Happy Mood & Less Anxiety. Fuel the brain and keep woes and blues at bay. When our brain is nourished, our hearts are morenourished and we’re able to see the glass more as half-full than half-empty..
- Makes your cells stronger. Fat composes the outer layer of your cells, so when we eat fat, we build the armor of our cells to be stronger—and less permeable to toxins and sugar. They are sleek, supple and toned cells.
- Absorbs Fat-Soluble Vitamins A, D, E & K. Eating fat is essential for absorbing vitamins and minerals in the food we eat. It’s like the glue or magnet that extracts these vitamins and minerals and helps our body get the most out of them.
- A Healthy Digestive System. Helps carry our other foods along things pass more sleekly and smoothly.
- Removing toxins & Aids in Elimination. Assists with the full process of digestion (particularly in the liver) so we excrete unwanted toxins.
- Composes Your Organs. Healthy organ function need fats for helping them go on with thriving and doing their job.
So what to eat?!
Choose these fats, incorporating at least 1-2 sources at each meal:
- Avocado (1 small, 1/3 – ½ large)
- Coconut oil
- Macadamia oil
- Avocado oil
- Extra Virgin Olive oil
- Walnut oil
- Sesame oil
- Goat’s Milk Butter
- Grass-fed Goat’s Milk
- Grass-fed butter (Kerrygold & Vital Farms are good brands)
- Duck fat
- Non-hydrogenated lard
- Beef tallow
- Coconut Milk/Cream (Canned)
- CoYo Yogurt (Coconut Yogurt)
- Coconut butter (Artisana is great brand at Whole Foods)
- Coconut flakes, unsweetened
- Hemp oil
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Mayonnaise (Primal Kitchen Mayo= great brand; Avoid brands with canola oil or sugar!)
- Palm Shortening (for baking)
- Full-fat grass-fed Dairy
- Pasture-raised Egg Yolks
- Fatty Fish (Salmon, Sardines)
- Fatty cut of meat (Organic, Grass-Fed, Pasture-raised)
(Looks like grandma was right after all—butter, lard and real eggs are healthy eats after all).