Healthy Fats: What Are They and How do they Improve Your Health [Episode #836]
This week’s topic is: Healthy Fats: What Are They and How do they Improve Your Health
When we talk about health, we’re talking about health in a holistic way which includes your physical health, your mental and emotional health, and your spiritual health. And there’s something very stabilizing about fat. If you’ve tried to go on a fat-free diet or tried to drastically slash fats, one of the things that you probably experienced was more moodiness or depression, just not feeling quite right in your mind.
Your brain needs healthy fats to function and ward off depression, particularly different omega fats. And also from an Ayurvedic standpoint, having fats in your system helps to build structure of the different dos in your body. They help to keep us stabilized and all the different energetics. And so it’s very important to balance our health, our energy, to make sure that we’re getting the proper healthy fats for our bodies to function. Everything affects everything from our immunity to our sleep, to our fertility levels and so on.
This is technically in the Food Cornerstone, however, as we’ll talk about on our show, we’ll continue to delve into how fat is a stabilizing energy. It’s a grounding energy, and is also important for our emotional wellbeing and our mental health.
Hi Kimberly, I’ve been an avid follower for many years and can’t thank you enough for all of the knowledge you share with the community. I was wondering if you can share your more recent thoughts on what you consider healthy fats and maybe why? Thanks!
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Kimberly: 00:00 Namaste loves. Welcome back to our Thursday Q&A show where today I’m excited to talk about Healthy Fats: What Are They and How do they Improve Your Health. So as always, when we’re talking about health here, we’re talking about health in a holistic way. So your physical health, but also your mental, your emotional and your spiritual health. And there’s something very stabilizing about fat. And if any of us has tried to go on a fat-free diet or tried to drastically slash fats, one of the things that you probably experienced was more moodiness or depression, just not feeling quite right in your mind. And we’ll get into in our show today, your brain needs healthy fats to function ward off depression, particularly different omega fats. And also from an Ayurvedic standpoint, having fats in your system help to build structure of the different dos in your body.
01:04 They help to keep us stabilized and all the different energetics. And so it’s very important to our balance, to our health, to our energy, to make sure that we’re getting the proper healthy fats for our bodies to function. And this is everything affects everything from our immunity to our sleep, to our fertility levels and so on. So I’m very excited to get into our show today, which is technically in the food cornerstone, but as we’ll talk about on our show, we’ll continue to delve into how fat is a stabilizing energy. It’s a grounding energy, so it’s also important for our emotional wellbeing and our mental health.
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02:17 So that is, we’re at mysolluna.com. There’s also a podcast tab where you can submit questions as well for upcoming shows. All right, so let’s get right into our show today, which is a really important one to talk about, especially as we head into the colder months, the cozier months, so to speak, for those of us in the northern hemisphere. So funny because I was just talking to my friend down in Australia and she said, oh, it’s coming into November. We’re starting to come into summer and the really beautiful months. And it’s so funny how we have our perspective based on our orientation on the planet, but if you are in the northern hemisphere like myself, then fats play an extra important role in the winter, providing us with warmth and extra fuel. And if you aren’t in the northern hemisphere, healthy fats are still really important for you as well.
Question around the topic of: Healthy Fats: What Are They and How do they Improve Your Health: Hi Kimberly, I’ve been an avid follower for many years and can’t thank you enough for all of the knowledge you share with the community. I was wondering if you can share your more recent thoughts on what you consider healthy fats and maybe why? Thanks!
03:24 So let’s get into our question, which comes from Wendy, who lives in Texas. Thank you so much, Wendy, for being part of our community, sending you a huge hug, whichever part of Texas you happen to be in. It’s a state. I have toured quite a lot. I’ve done a lot of book tours in Texas. We have a lot of our community members in this wonderful state. So much friendliness, so much warmth. So sending you much love wherever you happen to be, Wendy, and you write, hi Kimberly. I’ve been an avid follower for many years and can’t thank you enough for all of the knowledge you share with the community. You’re welcome. Thank you for being in the community. I was wondering if you can share more recent thoughts on what you consider healthy fats and maybe why. Thanks. Yes, Wendy. So thank you so much for bringing this topic up in today’s world.
04:23 There’s so much information that gets thrown our way and things can start to feel confusing and start to feel imbalanced. And so when you say your more recent thoughts, I want to start there and say that since my first book, the Beauty Detox Solution, I’ve been talking about the importance of beauty fats, but also that we need to balance all the macronutrients. We don’t need to cut out carbs, right? We don’t want to cut out fat, we don’t want to cut out protein. And as I get into in Radical beauty, which is the book, let’s see, three books ago now that I co-authored with Deepak Chopra, I talk about how the research shows, and also Ayurveda will say this because we teaches this based on our different body types. There isn’t a specific macronutrient percentage for everyone as in one size fits all. Everybody should have 50% fat, for instance, or everybody should have 70% carbs or whatever it is. Our bodies are all different. We have a different genetic constitution, we have different activity levels, we have different metabolisms. So we want to balance how much of each macronutrient we’re having and we’re ingesting on a daily basis. There are diets today, as we all know, that
Kimberly: 05:57 Can range to be quite extreme. There’s the carnivore diet, which is completely starch and carbohydrate free and is based on just eating meat, no vegetables, no salt, things of that nature. And then there’s the different iterations of the paleo diet, which is high protein. And then there’s the keto diet, which has been shown to help people lose weight in the short term, but for the long term. And there’s so much we could go down this rabbit hole with hundreds, thousands of studies, different experts, different people saying different things. But in my opinion, for a diet to be healthy for us, for the long-term, which is what we talk about here, una from a lifestyle perspective, is that we really want to balance all the foods in our diet. And there’s certain tenets that whether we’re talking about fat, we’re talking about seasonal vegetables. Some of the philosophy that I love to refer to so much who’s been the founder, Dan Buettner of the Blue Zones has been on here so much is really emphasizing simplicity.
07:16 And this has been proven to be really powerful for all these really long livid people across the world. They eat very simply, they eat natural foods. They’re not eating processed foods, they’re also not counting calories and carbs and grams of fat, but they’re eating in natural ways and they’re preparing their food in natural ways. And so I would urge you to align to that simple, natural, nourishing. These are the three adjectives that can be our guideposts as we think about healthy fats and other components of our diet. And a lot of these healthy fats, which we’ll talk about in just a moment, more specifically things like avocados, things like nuts are fresh and they are not tampered with. We’re also cover a bit about unhealthy fats, which are all the different seed oils. For instance, the inflammatory oils, the fried, the excessive heavy, the dense.
Research on Healthy Fats: What Are They and How do they Improve Your Health
08:20 So fats play a very important role in our diets. But just like all other components of our lifestyle, we talk about natural rhythms, we talk about our morning routine and drinking water and going to bed earlier and closer to when the sun sets. We want to align our diets to nature and to living this lifestyle so it doesn’t have to feel overly complicated. I will start off with some research to ground this and I will link to these studies in the show notes, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with the research. I want to just paint a picture of some of the broad strokes of what’s important, what I pulled out to be. Some aspects of the research I think are really important, but we don’t have to get lost in the rabbit hole of research. But rather how does this translate to our lives?
How do we actually incorporate healthy fats?
09:17 How do we actually incorporate healthy fats? How do we eat them and what are they good for? And that’s important to remember. And then once you understand the basics, you start to live it, you start to apply it. You also start to use more of your intuition because there will be times where your body will call out for more fat and especially as I mentioned in the winter months where fat has that stabilizing quality and adds more fuel and can help you stay warmer literally. And there’s fat lining, the myelin sheaths and our nervous system. So if we’re going through times of more activity, stress, movement, fat can feel stabilizing, it can feel really good in our bodies. So a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 found that the Mediterranean diet rich in monounsaturated fats primarily from olive oil, reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes and individuals at high cardiovascular risk.
10:20 So we’ve talked about the Mediterranean diet a bit here with Dan Butner who was strongly emphasizing that it was a lifestyle diet. It’s about the vegetables, it’s about the fiber, it’s about enjoying meals. It’s about many components beyond the olive oil. But sometimes we think of the Mediterranean diet and correlated only with the olive oil, but the olive oil certainly was one component. And when we’re having olive oil, which is a monounsaturated fat, we’re avoiding some of these more inflammatory oils, the cheaper oils, the oils that are sort of like how high fructose syrup, corn syrup is easy and cheap to produce. There are all these different cotton seed oils, and if you look, there’s just millions of these thousands varieties, hundreds of these different seed oils which you’ll see in junk food and that you’ll see in processed food. And so one of the things that we want to focus on when we’re talking about healthy fats is to use really good quality oil when you’re cooking and when you’re preparing food at home.
11:37 I would also say that for lower or higher temperatures, it’s important to use coconut oil for cooking your foods, which don’t become rancid in higher temperatures. But yes, we can look to the people in Europe eating the Mediterranean diet around the Mediterranean region, which are picking olives, pressing them, making fresh oils, eating big salads, having lots of vegetables, living this natural lifestyle. They’re not eating out of bags, they’re not eating tons and tons of sugar. They’re not eating huge portion sizes of meat either. They are eating fish and some animal protein, but it’s in much smaller quantities than what you see today. So cooking oil and not being fat, paying attention to your cook oil and realizing we don’t have to be low fat necessarily, but that this fat has a really healthy component for our cardiovascular health. We can also see that the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 25, 2005 showed that replacing saturated fats with monounsaturated fats in the diet can improve blood lipid profiles by reducing LDL cholesterol levels.
12:57 So as we shift more into healthier plant fats, lighter fats which the body can utilize, we need fats for brain health, heart health energy. But when we clog the body with excessive saturated fats, fats that are really dense fried fats, as I keep mentioning these seed oils and these really poor vegetable oils and junk food and such, our body then becomes congested and then we’re not as healthy, we’re not as energized. It’s literally creating this sort of dense toxicity in the body and it’s not being able to be utilized properly. So one thing that I will also mention that’s really important is that our body takes the fatty acids and through the enzyme lipase, it splits, it helps to digest the fat so that we’re able to really use the smaller fatty acids in our body and throughout. And so that’s one of the reasons that our sauna digestive enzymes have such a high amount of lipase several times more than other leading digestive enzymes because we can ingest these beauty fats, but if we don’t actually break them down and metabolize them properly, the fat can just be stored on our body or pass through without really getting the full benefit.
14:23 So it’s really important that we take our digestive enzymes, particularly before fatty meals, but really I take them before lunch and dinner every day no matter what, to make sure on a systemic level that my body is able to extract as much nutrition as possible from my food and to use it, something we say here a lot is we are not what we eat, but we are what we digest. We are what we digest. And so this is true from a food standpoint, this is also true how we digest our emotions and what we are nourishing ourselves with, feeding ourselves through all the senses. And this is another Ayurvedic teaching is that we don’t just eat food wise. What is the music we’re listening to, particularly while we’re eating? What are the television programs and the movies we’re watching? What is the social media coming in?
15:23 What are the news sites? How much of the news are we consuming? Who are the people that surround us? Right? And so anecdotally speaking, I have noticed certain clients and people that tend to hold on to more fact on their bodies when they are surrounded by negativity negative people. I’m not saying it’s the only factor, but there can be this holding quality I’ve noticed in people and they’re actually not letting the fact go. They’re holding it on almost like this protective barrier. And so I think when we’re talking about our lifestyle, we want to look at, and I don’t want to get too off topic here, but we want to make sure that we’re looking at everything that we’re taking in everything that we’re absorbing, everything that we’re feeding ourselves, which goes way beyond the food that we’re putting in our body, but the food in our body does have a very important energetic influence.
16:26 Going back to the research here for a moment, the Journal of Clinical Nutrition back in 2007 found that a high monounsaturated fat diet helped individuals with type two diabetes control their weight, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. So when we’re having these healthy fats, it helps to balance the body. It means that we also are not trying to overeat carbs in an attempt to feel full. Fat does fill us up. So whether we’re talking about eating some avocado toast or avocado massaged into a kale salad or some of the Udo’s oils, which I like to add to my soup after it’s been cooked, these are really healthy plant-based omega oils or cooking with coconut oil, which I tend to use generously when I bake sweet potatoes, which is something that me and the children eat quite a bit of. It helps us to balance our insulin levels and also to help again, reduce the risk of cardiovascular malfunction and disease.
17:39 So everything works synergistically. It’s very important that we have fat in our diets regularly and on everyday basis. The journal nutrients in 2019 found that the monounsaturated fats such as an olive oil, bringing it up again, can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body which are linked to chronic diseases. So back in the day, I remember my grandmother would cook with canola oil and it was very cheap and common, and at a certain point, I don’t think anybody really questioned it or if you were doing any sort of home frying, and I believe probably some of my Filipino relatives on the other side, wood fry in certain kinds of oils, like I mentioned, these vegetable oils. And nowadays we realize that we don’t want to use those oils as much as possible. We really want to stick to the whole, I want to say the whole plant vegetable whole plant oils.
18:50 That’s a term I just said, meaning the coconut oil or the fresh pressed olive oil. There’s also macadamia and nut oil, which I’ve found to be really wonderful and healthy. And there’s walnut oil, which is quite delicate, but these cheaper vegetable oils, which also in restaurants tend to be fried over and over again, create a lot of inflammation in the body. They break down our cells, they age us, they rob us of our energy. And so those are the ones that we really want to avoid. So if you happen to eat out a lot, you may want to check what type of oils your restaurants using and choose based on that. Sweet Greens just announced that they were going seed oil free, which wasn’t exactly the type of positive PR they might have expected because many people said, wait, but what were you using before?
19:55 And then it came to light that they actually had been using seed oils. And I actually, this week I’m speaking at the Alzheimer’s organization, the LA chapter on lifestyle and getting some of their research out. I was reviewing the menu, which is at a very fancy establishment in Beverly Hills, and I worked with the chef and said, look, we can’t have any seed oils on this menu because we’re talking about brain health here, and do we want to send the right message and talk about how this is part of this is nutrition with Alzheimer’s. Part of it’s also they’re finding in the research really great sleep over the long-term exercise and the intangibles like preventing stress and meditation and things as well play a part of this lifestyle, really the four cornerstones as we talk about here. But anyways, it’s really important that we are ingesting really beautiful healthy oils, which I’ll get into again in just a moment, but that we are avoiding the inflammatory oils, the fried, the cheap vegetable oils.
21:07 So I’ll breeze through some more of this research. I mean, it really goes on and on. I want to talk about omega fats for a moment, particularly the EPA and DHA, which help to enhance fat metabolism. And it’s an important one for all of us, I believe, to supplement because it can help increase fat oxidation and improve body composition. Omega fats are also really important for brain health. They’re important for heart health. They’re very important to fetal development. So we have our amazing holistic mama pregnancy course coming out in just a few months. If you are thinking about conceiving, you should be taking a prenatal and please also take a vegan algae-based E-P-A-D-H-A supplement even when you’re thinking about trying to conceive because it will benefit you and it will benefit baby as well. So there’s also a ratio between the omega sixes and the omega threes.
22:09 We have some articles on this. I’m not going to go too deep down this rabbit hole. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition talks about this balance between omega threes and omega sixes. So it’s a ratio, some even say four to one. Some say there’s different numbers out there, but the Americans are having, the typical American diet is having something crazy like many, many dozens of times, more omega sixes because of again, the junk food and the prolific amount of the seed oils, which are added into everything from pasta sauce to chips, to pretty much any food that you think that comes out of a bag and is processed.
23:04 So I will link to some of these show notes. There’s a lot that we could keep going on and on, but just in general, to sum up here, when we’re having healthy fats, we are nourishing our organs, we’re nourishing our brain, we’re nourishing our heart, we are allowing our bodies to function better. If we don’t eat enough fat, we can see on the surface of our bodies, we tend to get dry skin, dry hair, we tend to get moody. We tend to feel spacey. So fat provides this really important lubricating quality. Ayurveda teaches that if we don’t have enough healthy fat, our colons can become dry. There’s an over proliferation of Vata energy and we can actually go towards constipation and other digestive issues. And that is one of the reasons that Ayurveda uses a lot of oils and ghee while cooking is to make sure we’re able to metabolize the food well enough with enough fats.
Recommended Healthy Fats: What Are They and How do they Improve Your Health: Avocado
24:16 The fats that I recommend, which we talked about here today, first of all is avocado, which is rich in those monounsaturated fats. And what I love about avocado is that it’s a complete nutritional food, which has water, it has fiber, it has these minerals in it, it’s got the healthy fats. So when you’re eating a whole avocado, you’re really getting this complete package the way that nature designed it to be. And my kids love making guacamole together, particularly my older son. And we put in tomatoes, we put in lemon, and then we dip it with carrots and some gluten-free chips or whatever we eat it with. So it’s a nice thing to introduce your children to. Very lucky that in Hawaii and also here in California, we have some avocado trees, although the one here is not fully producing yet. We have several varieties in Hawaii, so it’s really great.
Healthy Fats: What Are They and How do they Improve Your Health: Nuts and Nut Butter
25:17 Anytime we could make our own food, grow our own food and pick it off, pick the fruit off and enjoy it with our families, and there’s that directness, that connection to earth, which is really wonderful. Another really important source of fat is nuts and almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, as I mentioned, are really wonderful to incorporate for the family. This includes the nut butters, which my family goes in and out of phases. Sometimes my sons love the almond butter and sometimes they want to break from it, but my kids, we keep bags around particularly of walnuts, pecans, cashews, and it is a snack that we often have in our family. Nuts have incredible fats. They are so nutrient dense. They also have lots and lots of minerals, which are important for all of us at all ages. So one of the ways in which I love to get the nuts in is first of all, as I mentioned, we just have bags when we’re playing board games, so we snack on them, and then I often like to throw them on salads.
26:26 I don’t like to cook the nuts. I prefer them raw and just simple. You can also make different nut. We have different recipes for that. There’s been different recipes in my books.
Healthy Fats: What Are They and How do they Improve Your Health: Seeds
Also, seeds are a hugely important food group. So I was talking about the seed oils and I was talking about therape, the canola, the cotton seed, the cheaper seed oils, but high quality seeds like chia seeds and flax seeds and hemp seeds are amazing, and they’re rich in the alpha linolenic acid, a type of omega fatty acid, and they’re wonderful. I have chia seeds often in my power protein smoothie. We use hemp milk a lot, and hemp milk was something that I gave my children as they were coming off breast milk. So these are really nutrient dense. And what I like about seeds is that they have this energetic potential similarly to sprouts where they’re in this phase of growing and nourishing. And so there’s that added quality as well, which I just think they’re amazing, amazing foods to incorporate.
Healthy Fats: What Are They and How do they Improve Your Health: Olive Oil and Coconut Oil
27:42 Olive oil, which we mentioned. I think it’s a good idea to have coconut oil to cook with, and also olive oil to use in salad dressings and to pour on raw if you’re making a bean salad or something of that nature. The coconut oil is high in saturated fat. It contains medium chain triglycerides known as MCTs, which are healthier form of saturated fat, and it’s a wonderful, wonderful oil to keep around. I’m a huge fan of coconuts. I love coconuts. We have a lot of coconut trees in Hawaii, and I love eating the meat as well when we cut it open. But particularly the oil is healthy, it’s energizing for your body. It’s metabolized well, so it’s much better than using some other oils, and it’s a great replacement for ghee. If you are plant-based like me, and you’re following some Ayurvedic recipes, it’s a wonderful, hearty fat that helps you to absorb the different vitamins and minerals. That’s one of the philosophies of Ayurveda, to really use that healthy fat while you’re cooking to make sure you’re getting the most out of your food as well.
Healthy Fats: What Are They and How do they Improve Your Health: Fruits and vegetables
29:17 Also, there are other fruits and vegetables which are higher in fat like durian. It may not be super common, but depending on where you live. And also just good old olives, we don’t always just have to go straight to the oil. There’s wonderful properties in whole foods like themselves. I personally add olives to my wraps in the morning, just gives a nice little saltiness and also gives a little bit of healthy fat with the avocado. So when you look at your diet and you think about, okay, how do I feel? Everybody’s body’s different. If you’re starving through the morning, for instance, you want to make sure that you’re adding healthy fat to stabilize you, to give you a sense of, besides fiber, to give you a sense of longer term energy, I would say by mid-morning, or some of us depending on our body type, like kafa, more earthy types could get to lunch.
30:31 But I’ll give you an example for my body, which is very Vata. So I get up early in the morning, I’m up with my kits. I don’t eat right away. I like to have the hot water with lemon, the hot elixirs tea, things like that, the glowing green smoothie. And then by mid-morning, I am very hungry Now, I’ve been up for a while now. I’ve been doing a lot. I’ve brought my older son to school, I’ve been driving. So then is when I want that fatty fat, including wrap, which I use an almond wrapper or brown rice, gluten-free avocado, hummus, olives, sprouts, sometimes tomatoes, cucumbers, whatever happens to be in it. And this is very stabilizing for me. And if it was just the wrapper, let’s say the brown rice wrap with the sprouts or whatever, the hummus, which has some fat, but it’s not really fatty, super fatty, I don’t feel as stabilized.
31:38 So I definitely have fat in my diet throughout the day, starting by the mid-morning. Then for lunch, I often have a soup or some brown rice or both. And then I have a power protein smoothie, and I always put in chia seeds, the chia seed gel that you’ve heard me talk about so much. And we have recipes for making it. And also the power protein smoothie, which you can check out on the site. So therein adds more fat to make sure it’s that part of the day. And then dinner, there’s often baked vegetables, roasted vegetables and coconut oil. We make many different things, lentil pasta or whatever. And then there’s fat again. So I personally don’t count. I don’t count any component of my diet. There’s a high level of intuition in it. I also notice how I feel if I’m feeling overly hungry. I know that I need to add more heavier, dense foods that day, whether it’s the fat, some extra protein, and it changes by season.
32:44 So in the summer I go for longer hours, just really vibing off the high vibration raw fruit. But again, in the winter, in the fall and spring, it’s different every season. So I encourage you to look at your diet to make sure that you have stocked your home with these healthier fats. And as I mentioned, the Udo’s oil is pricey, but it does last a long time. It may be something you want to keep in your refrigerator and add a little bit onto your soup. I added onto some of my kids’ brown rice sometimes just to make sure they’re getting omega fats for their brains and stock your home and please don’t go fat free. But please avoid some of the more rancid seed oils, the heavy fried oils, the lower quality oils, and then also consider replacing the denser animal fats with these healthier, lighter plant-based options that are out there which digest really well and give fuel to your body and nourish your organs and your hormones and your energy.
33:56 It’s really important. Everything works synergistically together. So we need all the macronutrients, we need healthy fat, we need healthy carbs, we need healthy protein. And it’s going to be a bit different for each of our bodies. And as I mentioned, it’s going to be different for each of the seasons. So to access balanced recipes, please be sure to check out our site. As I mentioned, we have so many recipes on there, and they contain healthy fats, healthy carbs, and healthy protein as well. So head over to the show notes, my sauna.com. There’s other articles related to this that I will link to as well as other shows in this genre that I think you would be interested in, including an interview with Dr. Udo Erasmus who created Udo’s Oils. He’s one of the world’s leading fat experts and came on to talk about fats more with us specifically. So that show in particular might be of interest to you. We’ll be back here Monday for our next interview show. Until then, sending you so much love. I’m so happy and grateful that we are connected. It is my honor, and please reach out to me. Please let me know how we can support you more. You can also find me on social at Kimberly Snyder. I will see you back here soon. Sending you so much love. Namaste.