Healthy Fats

Paleo On The Go

Posted on April 19 2022

Healthy Fats

Yes, it’s true—fat is healthy! We need dietary fats for robust endocrine, metabolic, and skin health. Fats are essential for building our sex and stress hormones, healing damaged tissues, helping us absorb vitamins A, D, E, & K, and keeping our energy balanced. Healthy fats also control inflammation within our bodies—specific lipids turn inflammation on when we need it and signal it to stop once our immune system has taken care of any invaders.

Amazingly, every cell within the body is surrounded by a fat-rich lipid membrane, regulating function and communication with other cells. So if you want healthy cells and robust health, the trick is to eat healthy fats while minimizing your intake of unhealthy ones.

Unfortunately, fats commonly found in the Standard American Diet aren’t so healthy. Dietary fats found in ultra-processed foods and fried foods, such as industrially processed vegetable and seed oils like canola, grapeseed, and hydrogenated vegetable shortening can lead to heightened inflammation and detrimental health outcomes, particularly metabolic dysfunction, chronic pain syndromes, and autoimmune disorders.

Fats used in the Paleo diet such as extra-virgin olive oil, sources of whole food omega-3 fatty acids, and coconut oil are the healthy fats that promote both physical and mental well-being. Let’s take a closer look at these healing fats, many of which you’ll find in Paleo On The Go meals.

Healthy Fat #1: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Extra-virgin olive oil has the most well-documented health benefits of all the healthy fats. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease and has impressive anti-inflammatory effects (1). This is because extra-virgin olive oil contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that can reduce inflammation, lower disease risk, and even help reduce belly fat (2). Extra virgin olive oil is also packed with plant antioxidants called polyphenols. Polyphenols can “turn on” genes that regulate inflammation and disease. Ensure your olive oil is labeled cold-pressed and extra-virgin to get the most health benefits.

Healthy Fat #2: Omega-3 Fatty Acids

These anti-inflammatory fatty acids are considered essential fats, meaning we must get them from our diet because our bodies cannot make them. Foods such as fatty fish (think salmon and sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts are fantastic sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3s help our bodies calm the fire of ongoing inflammation. Research tells us that most of us do not eat enough omega-3 fats compared to our intake of omega-6 fats, which could be a factor in the strong inflammatory component of many chronic diseases such as pain syndromes and autoimmunity. Do your best to eat a ratio of one part omega-3 fats, found in the foods listed above, to one part omega-6 fats, found in pasture-raised meat, poultry, and eggs.

Healthy Fat #3: Coconut Oil

Coconut oil and creamy coconut milk are incredible sources of healthy fats. Primarily composed of medium-chain saturated fatty acids such as anti-parasitic, ant-viral, and anti-fungal caprylic acid, coconut oil has a long history of traditional and medicinal use (3). Plus, it’s delicious! Try it in curries, coffee, and even as an excellent skin moisturizer.

As with any food, some caveats come with coconut oil. Those with certain genetic predispositions to high cholesterol and inflammatory heart disease should speak with a certified nutritionist or clinician about the bio-individual pros and cons of coconut oil consumption (4).

Fats to Avoid

Remember to avoid any processed or industrially produced seed and vegetable oils. These are commonly found on grocery store shelves as soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, rice bran oil, corn oil, safflower oil, and in processed foods as partially hydrogenated oils. These lipids are chemically unstable due to high-heat oil extraction processes, rancid, and full of solvents such as hexane.

Sometimes poor quality fats are sneaky! Be sure to read labels while grocery shopping or just grab a meal from Paleo On The Go! We never use processed fats in any of our recipes.

1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21443487
2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32135008
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5044790
4. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.043052

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