If you’re a fan of peanut butter, olive oil, or even nuts, yet hear that they are fattening and avoid them, I’d recommend you put them back on your plate. Way too many people are afraid of eating fat; they worry that since it is called “fat” and high in fat content, it will lead to weight-gain or obesity. Fortunately, this is not the case.
Simply stated, there are good fats and then there are bad fats. If you are fearful to reach for the olive oil because it’s a complete fat, let me assure you that your concerns are unjustified. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the healthiest fats in the world, and it happens to be a food eaten by the Prophet (peace be upon him). It grants you satiety, cardiovascular health benefits, cognitive health benefits, and is great for the hair, skin, and nails. Nuts and nut butters are also high in healthy fats, protein, essential minerals and vitamins alike. They grant satiety and cause you to not overeat. These are of the many healthy fats out there you can comfortably consume like coconut oil, seeds and seed butters, and avocados. Essentially, I’m not recommending that you start including deep-fried sweets, fast food, or chips into your diet. For that, I must explain the difference between the bad fats as well as the fats that can do your health wonders.
Trans fat is the fat I’d advise clients to avoid like the plague. Why? This is the type of fat that could promote cardiovascular issues and clog your arteries too. Unfortunately, today there is a ton of trans fat snuck in packaged food, and you wouldn’t even know it’s in there if someone doesn’t bring it to your attention. Don’t focus on the front of the package that may say “0 grams trans fat”, or other deceptive claims like “light,” “low calories,” etc. Skip all those claims; read the back. Even if it says “0 grams trans fat” on the front of the package, legally it can have 0.5 grams or less, which is still harmful for your health. By the back, I’m referring to the ingredient list, not the calories. If you see the word partially hydrogenated oil (even if it’s olive oil) or fully hydrogenated oil anywhere in the ingredient list, put that package back on the shelf. Partially or fully hydrogenated oils literally mean hydrogen was shot into the oils in an industrial manner to change the compounds and make these oils solid at room temperature. This allows the food to last longer, stay softer, and taste better. Inconsolably, it’s a lose-lose situation. Yes, the product may last much longer on the store shelves or in your pantry, or it may taste so moist when you bite into it, but it’s not so tasty for your inner system.
Hydrogenated oils are linked to various health risks, including heart disease, high cholesterol, and even allergies, and they are one of the major ingredients I advise my clients to avoid for themselves, and especially for younger children who are still in their developing years.
I have seen numerous clients reach their ideal weight goals by eating healthy fats and more importantly, without feeling hungry or deprived whatsoever. Why? It’s due to the fact that healthy fats from sources like raw and roasted nuts or seeds, extra virgin olive oil, fatty fish, grass-fed butter, avocadoes, nut butters, organic coconut oil, and so forth do not only provide slow absorption and satiety, but they also contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. These healthy fats curb your cravings, keep you full longer, have cardiovascular benefits, have vital antioxidants and nutrients, allow you to better absorb nutrients, are great for your memory, and have anti-inflammatory benefits. These are just a few of the benefits coming from these wonderful, whole food sources that are high in fat and taste great too.
When it comes to dairy products, you may be shocked that I recommend all of my clients avoid fat free and skim milk. Our country had a phase of “low-fat” diets in the last thirty years, only to find our generations getting sicker than ever. Several generations ago people were consuming grass-fed butter, only today does it coming back as a health food. We have many replacing this natural fat with margarine and butter-like spreads. These spreads are full of hydrogenated oils, genetically engineered oils, food coloring, and hefty long chemicals you wouldn’t find in nature. We have an obsession with low fat yogurt, fat-free cheese, and skim milk. Nonetheless, these products are not as healthy as they are portrayed to be. For those who purchase grass-fed raw milk, you’re very aware that it comes in “whole” fat. It’s not processed, it’s not pasteurized, and it’s full of its natural good for your fat and digestive enzymes, along with many other benefits. Raw organic cheese also comes in full fat; they don’t process your cheese immensely, add a bunch of coloring and texture protecting chemicals, label it fat-free, and sell it to you as a health food. Raw cheese is in its natural state-raw, with the enzymes which help you digest dairy in the first place. The same goes with yogurt; you see fat-free labels, but they come with a longer ingredient list. That’s due to that fact that they must replace that fat with some other taste-enhancing chemicals. Make sure to avoid fruit yogurts, which come along with plenty of chemicals, colorings, fructose or glucose syrups, and possibly artificial sweeteners. Buy plain yogurt and add your own fruit or granola toppings at home.
So, next time you’re grocery shopping, instead of grabbing the “low-fat” packaged food items thinking they may be a better choice for your health and weight, purchase wonderful sources of healthy whole food fats like raw nuts, full fat plain yogurt, flax seeds, or extra virgin olive oil. Add some avocados to your breakfast, and cook your salmon in organic virgin coconut oil. These fats are scrumptious and great for you, a definite win-win situation.
Next week, I’ll share a delicious salmon and veggie recipe, bursting in great taste and healthy fats.
Noor H. Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, Sunnah Superfoods, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages.