Just like a car needs to have regular oil and filter changes to run smoothly and efficiently, your body also needs regular healthy dietary fats and oils to keep it lubricated and running without aches, pains, or creaks. Healthy fats and oils give your system a recharge, and are a wonderful boost to your nervous system, hormone balance, blood flow within the vessel walls, joint mobility and inflammation reduction. The sources of the fats are very important, however. Some fats and oils actually cause the body to flare in pain by promoting inflammatory agents or get stored in adipose (fat) tissue where the body cannot access it for energy production.
We all have fat within our body; we need it for structural protection and warmth. When it stores in yellow adipose tissue, however, we develop an over-abundance of non-healthy fats that cause many health problems. Not all fat is good fat. So we need to remain mindful of what we eat, as excessive consumption of food, especially high-fat and saturated fat foods, contribute to improper storage of fats within the body and potential disease states.
The best food sources of healthy fats come from mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Be cognizant of the fact, though, that just because they are healthier sources does not mean we should overindulge. All fats and oils are high in calories, so limit them to 4-6 small servings a day based on your body’s nutritional needs. If you are using oils, stick with cold-pressed oils including: olive oil, flaxseed oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, soybean and safflower oils. Chia seeds are also a wonderful addition to shakes or Greek yogurt, but limit it to 2-3 tablespoons per day. Avocadoes (1/8 of an avocado is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of oil) are a healthy addition to any diet, and tastes wonderful blended in smoothies, or chopped and made into guacamole or topped on turkey lettuce rollups. Real butter in small portions is a great natural fuel for the body.
Avoid margarines, shortening, and high-carbohydrate sweets and processed foods. These are unnatural to the body and will store as fat and cause inflammation. Eat as clean as possible, whenever possible. And stick with lean meat sources, wild caught fish, wild game, and cage-free chickens, turkeys, and eggs. Real foods with healthy fats in moderation will improve energy and fat-burning ability, lubricate the joints, fuel the brain, and improve vascular health.
Contributed by Terri Caunt R.N., B.S.N.