You’ve probably heard far too often, “don’t eat that, it has too much fat!”
Unfortunately, several decades ago the fear of fat indeed reached a peak; it led many to toss out their egg yolks, avoid drinking milk, choose crackers over nuts, and even limit their intake of butter. It also resulted in the million-dollar industry of manufacturing man-made butter-replacement spreads, highly-processed egg whites in a carton, and lab-made oils that are deodorized and bleached.
Fast-forward about thirty years to today: holistic practitioners and doctors alike debunk the myth, backed up with countless peer-reviewed studies. Today, researchers from Harvard and various universities confirmed that the dietary cholesterol from butter or egg yolks seldom has an effect on serum cholesterol levels, and thus do not play a role in increasing your risk of heart disease. In fact, the egg yolk contains half the amount of the egg protein, and is loaded with vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12, iron, folate, and riboflavin. Butter, organic and grass-fed, is loaded with healthy fats, and nutrients crucial for optimum wellness of neurotransmitters in your brain. Butter replacement spreads and sticks on the other hand, are items you should leave at the supermarket.
Consuming them frequently could lead to inflammation, heart disease, liver damage, or food intolerance. For that, it’s recommended that you put butter back on your plate, and make room for healthy fats in your kitchen pantry.
Fundamentally, it’s crucial that you distinguish healthy fats from fats that could undeniably be detrimental to your health. Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, organic grass-fed butter, avocadoes, nuts and seeds, and fatty-fish are all sources of healthy fats that are extremely beneficial for your mental and physical well-being. Eating these fats often actually prevent weight-gain, unlike what many perceive.
Consuming adequate amounts of healthy fats in your diet could prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, low energy, cognitive decline, adrenal fatigue, and much more. Moreover, healthy fats allow your body to better absorb fat-soluble vitamins, which are key for your long-term optimum health. These healthy fats contain unique anti-inflammatory properties, and for that, could save you from many aches and pains far ahead.
Nuts, including cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, and brazil nuts are all incredibly delicious and packed with nutrients, minerals, and protein. Nuts are high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are heart-healthy, similar to extra virgin olive oil. You can read more about distinguishing healthy fats, proper cooking with fats, and more in my book, Sunnah Superfoods. Thus, instead of reaching for a package of low-calorie crackers or cookies, packed with preservatives, sugar, salt, or unhealthy fat, snack on a handful of nuts, or vegetables with nut butter spreads.
If you’re hoping to not just gain satiety, but also lower your risk of heart disease, obesity, or imbalanced blood sugar, enjoy eating a handful of nuts or some nut butters four times or so a week. Look for nuts that are free of hydrogenated oils, which will be clearly listed on the ingredients as fully or partially hydrogenated, followed by the type of oil the manufacturers use. For example, your canister of mixed nuts may state the following ingredients: “Almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt.” Yet, on the front of the label, they have the confidence to smack a “heart-healthy” phrase to convince you to reach for the item.
It’s essential to mention, that many widespread peanut butters contain hydrogenated oils, which stabilizes them and extends their shelf-life. Hydrogenated oils are trans fats, and lead to clogged arteries, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and an increase in the risk of stroke or cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, and even vegetable oil are awfully unhealthy, and could lead to the development of internal inflammation, toxic liver, obesity, diabetes, heart conditions, and food intolerance. These oils are genetically engineered, highly processed and unnatural, and are not in the best interest of your health. Aim to eliminate these oils from your diet completely, and instead use extra virgin olive oil, organic grass-fed butter, coconut oil, or avocado oil in your meals.
If you can’t live without your peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or are unable to get by without snacking on peanut butter cups post-lunch, friends at Justin’s Peanut Butter have your back. Not only does this company provide a delicious line of peanut butter, almond butter, and hazelnut cocoa butter spreads, but they also offer perfectly portioned nut butters with either pretzels or banana chips. They are easy to grab on your way out the door, or place in your child’s backpack for snack time. Best of all, Justin’s has a line of peanut butter cups that will satisfy any sweet tooth. They are certified organic, fair-trade, and made with rainforest alliance certified cocoa. These one-of-a-kind peanut butter cups come in three remarkable flavors: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and even white chocolate-to satisfy chocolate lovers of every kind.
If you can’t find them at your local market, they can be shipped right to your door, via online retailers. Replacing your daily peanut butter that may happen to have hydrogenated oil with a healthier alternative could do your health wonders, instantaneously and down the line. Remember that healthy living is not short-term meal plans to lose a few pounds, only to return to unhealthy habits and food choices. Make it a lifestyle that you work towards gradually by making permanent changes to unhealthy habits with better ones.
You can purchase Justin’s peanut butter products at your local supermarket, on their website, or via online retailers for a great value.
With that being said, implement more healthy fats into your snacks and meals, and observe as you have more energy, an improved mood, and less cravings for heavily processed junk food. Best of all, enjoy more nuts and nut butters, and be rest assured they are not detrimental to your well-being.
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.