This is my lunch for today. It is a simple veggie mix with hemp hearts and a special ingredient that I just discovered at my local Superstore: Icelandic cod liver in oil.
Not your usual tuna salad 🙂 for more reason than you think. I was actually grinning making it thinking: if people only knew how much fat I am about to eat...
Instead of the fish being the main source of protein in this salad, there is actually about a tablespoon of hemp hearts working hard to provide amino acids. So in here the "bad boy" is cod liver: one heck of a fat bomb. I mean like mega dose, without apology! Take a look:
If your heart just stopped after discovering that only HALF of this tiny can has 240 calories and third of those are fat, I think I should explain why I actually consumed the entire can. While being diet compliant.
1. The right kind is the key.
If you blindly follow simplistic recommendations to avoid fats like a plague due to increased cardiovascular risks or because you were told that fat consumption increases your waist size, I need to burst your bubble right now. Not all the fats were created equal.
I agree with the public - some fats are simply lethal. I am talking here about hydrogenated kinds, that are overabundant in processed products, like cookies, crackers, margarines etc. This is the main reason why cardiologists and oncologists are two busiest specialties in medicine.
However there are some kind of fats that our bodies not only require, but are essential to our existence. Think flax, fatty fish, butter, coconut or olive oil. They all contain incredibly useful compounds, from omegas to butyric acid and you should not be scared to enjoy them. The only thing you need to keep in mind that fats high in polyunsaturates (flax seed oil, for example) are easily damaged by heat and sun exposure, so make sure you only use them in dishes that don't require cooking.
2. Why fats are IMPORTANT for our bodies?
No matter what you may think about your love handles, fats are actually really important for us.
- Insulation and cushioning. Adipose tissue (aka fat) serves as a layer of insulation to keep our body temperature stable. It also protects our vital organs.
- Energy. Fat is the best and most efficient way for our bodies to store energy and have it available "on demand" whenever we need it.
- Nerve and brain function. Fats are essential part of myelin sheath, a fat-like substance that protects our nerves. Our brains also require essential fatty acids (EFA) for proper functioning, as they are primarily composed of them.
- Healthy cells. Since our cell membranes are primarily fats, healthy tissues and organs require them for making sure those membranes are healthy.
- Vitamin transporters. Vitamins A, D, E, K are only available for absorption if are combined with fat (they are fat soluble). They control major processes in our bodies, from bone health, nerve function, healthy vision, blood clotting and health of our skin. They are also powerful antioxidants fighting off the disease inducing free radicals however we cannot absorb them without the fats.
- They are building blocks for important hormones. Without fats we wouldn't be able to produce hormones in our bodies and I am quite sure you can guess why that would not be the best thing for us.
3. So what the poor dieter should do?
In short, don't shy away from fats, unless they come in a form of processed foods or hydrogenated oils or those that have been re-fried a million times. Those are highly carcinogenic.
Fats will not only provide you with energy, but when you are on a diet and you are trying to control your portion sizes, fats are great to increase satiety of your meal. They will slow down digestion keeping you fuller longer. They will also help to regulate the release of insulin and avoiding insulin spikes is one of the key element of healthy weight loss and maintenance. Healthy Essential Fatty Acids like Omega-3s are also great antiinflammatory agents, which further assists weight release.
Fats to enjoy are primarily found in whole foods, like raw nuts and seeds, coconuts, avocadoes, wild caught fatty fish, flax seeds and butter. Even bacon is ok in moderation, but should be as natural as possible without flavours or enhancers added. The only note about bacon is that fat is also used in animals (and humans) as a dump site for toxins, so be mindful of that.