For a number of years fat has been given a bum rap, due in large part to the low fat posse; but with time has come wisdom and fat, the right fat, is now getting the credit that it’s due. It’s taken thirty years of research to get to this point, but it would appear that all is not bad in the land of fat.
Like with anything in life, there are the good and there are the bad; and the good are exceptionally good when it comes to cardiovascular health, while the bad are extremely bad for the health of our hearts.
The Role of Fat
Omega fatty acids are essential to our bodies, as we cannot produce them ourselves; meaning we must provide the body with them through supplementation or food. The two main types of essential fats are alpha-linolenic acid, or omega 3, and linolenic acid, or omega 6.
What few people know is that there is a third omega fatty acid called omega 9, which is found in olive oil and other monounsaturated fats; but omega 9 oils are not considered essential because our bodies can make them from the unsaturated fat we consume in our diets.
• Take Away
What is important to remember is that all of these fats are crucial for our families to lead a healthy and vitalized life.
An Ounce of Prevention
When we think of heart disease rarely do visions of children come to mind; however, with childhood obesity on the rise in North America it is becoming a growing concern. Now, you’re five year old is likely safe from the threat of heart attack or stroke, but an ounce of prevention…
Prevention is, and always will be, the best approach when it comes to decreasing the risk of dying from a heart attack. The majority of studies have shown that individuals who had higher amount of alpha- linolenic acid in their bloodstream from fish or fish products showed a significant decrease in risk of sudden death from heart related incidents.
I know what you’re thinking “how do I get MY child to willingly consume fish oil, I can barely get him to eat fish”? Well, vitamin companies have caught wise and are now beginning to fortify vitamins for kids with the omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA! And fish oil supplementation appears to be as effective as consuming the fish itself.
• Take Away
What you want to ensure is that yours and your children’s supplements are from trusted manufacturers.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
In today’s diet, it’s not whether you eat fat, it’s what kind of fats you consume; here are the good and the bad.
The Good Guys
• Oils (canola, olive, sesame)
• Nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans)
• Natural Almond and Peanut Butters
• Sesame, Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds
Polyunsaturated Fats including omega-3
• Fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines)
• Chia Seeds
The Bad (and very ugly) Guys
• Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats
• Non dairy creamers
• Many processed baked and fried goods
• Saturated Fats
• Fatty cuts of beef, pork and lamb
The Grand Take Away
The answer to the growing obesity epidemic does not lie in cutting fat out of your family’s diet, as fat is needed in the body for healthy hair, skin and nails, memory retention, weight loss, increased energy and improved learning. The answer centers on choosing the right fats.
By ensuring that you and your family consume heart healthy omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, you ensure the wellbeing and longevity of the ones you love. They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but with the right fats, who needs apples!
Bianca Osbourne is a natural foods chef and aspiring nutritionist. Through her website Vitality Guide for Women, she shares her recipes for healthy food, highlighting flavor and the benefits of healthy eating. She endeavors to show people how to harness the power of whole foods for vitality and wellness.