For decades, fat was a word that caused dread and disgust. Ever since the 80’s, low-fat products have slowly conquered supermarket isles around the globe, while the full-fat ones got shoved away in the corners. As a society, we have been constantly told by doctors, nutritionists and health agencies that if we lead a fat-free, supposedly healthy lifestyles, we’ll avoid obesity and cardiovascular problems. But did this dietary shift really improve our health, fitness and overall well-being?
The statistics seem to state quite the opposite. Obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease have all reached epidemic proportions all around the country, and their prevalence is increasing at a rate faster than ever. And one of the major reasons behind this trend seems to be contained in the fact that together with the harmful fats, we’ve abandoned the healthy ones as well.
Let’s make it clear: fat is an important source of energy for our bodies and they need to obtain a certain amount of it from the food we eat. Fat plays a big role in the construction of cell membranes and the sheaths surround nerves, while also being vital for blood clotting and inflammation.
However, not all fats are created equal. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered as better than saturated fats, and saturated fats are better than artificial trans fats which are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to increase their shelf life and make them solid, easy to use and inexpensive to produce.
In fact, trans fats are the ones that should be avoided at all costs, while all other fats deserve their rightful place in a healthy diet since they offer plenty of health-promoting benefits, such as increasing the metabolic rate and stimulating the burning of excess body fat.
If you have been starving your body of fats so far, now it’s the time to reintroduce these essential nutrients to your life and enhance both your overall health and your weight loss efforts. And here’s where to begin.
1. Fish oil
Fish oil has been proven to aid the body in countless ways, including supporting weight loss, heart health, bone density, insulin sensitivity, fertility, healthy pregnancy, skin health and cognitive functioning.
Most of the benefits of fish oil stem from its incredible abundance of omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). To increase your intake of fish oil, you can up your consumption of fatty, cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, or buy fish oil capsules.
Regardless of which you choose, you’re guaranteed to get some amazing benefits. Multiples studies have shown that fish oil reduces inflammation, blood triglycerides and arterial plaque instability, thereby protecting the organism against cancer and cardiovascular disease.
In addition, the DHA and EPA found in fish oil have a powerful ability to enhance the metabolism and increase fat burning by positively altering the gene functioning through various mechanisms which include changing the makeup of cell membranes, altering the transcription of genes and influencing the levels of calcium within the cells.
All of this makes DHA and EPA extremely effective not only at fighting off numerous diseases but in terms of eliminating excess body fat as well.
More specifically, these acids have the ability to increase the rate of fat burning by stimulating the activity of enzymes in the liver involved in fat breakdown and oxidation and diminishing the activity of enzymes that promote fat storage, which leads to an improved fatty acid and glucose metabolism.
For optimal benefits, most health experts recommend three to four servings of fatty fish per week or a regular daily intake of fish oil supplements.
2. Oleic acid
Oleic acid, also known as omega-9 fatty acid, is monounsaturated fatty acid found in certain vegetable oils and known for its ability to prolong food spoilage. This acid is widely distributed in nature, with the most notable sources being avocados, olive oil and canola oil while the second-best sources include beef tallow, peanut oil and palm oil.
Much like the DHA and EPA found in fish, the compounds found in oleic acid seem to have beneficial effects on the metabolism in terms of fat oxidation and reducing fat storage.
A recent study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the increased intake of oleic acid, combined with a decrease in the consumption of palmitic acid increased fat burning and energy expenditure, while an increase in palmitic acid consumption had the exact opposite effects.
Additionally, oleic acid has been proven to have a faster oxidation rate than linoleic acid, an unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid that’s heavily used in restaurants and artificially processed foods.
Another study published in the international journal of medicine QJM found that diets rich in oleic acid, such as the Mediterranean diet, can improve plasma glucose, insulin sensitivity and blood circulation under fasting conditions, which suggests a direct link with better diabetes control and a reduced risk for other serious diseases.
This means that in order to upgrade your health, stimulate your metabolic rate and melt your excess body fat, you should also include more oleic acid in your diet, preferably by increasing your consumption of olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, avocados and cocoa butter.
3. Coconut oil
Coconut oil has an endless list of health benefits, most prominent of which are improving digestion, immunity, degenerative diseases, skin infections, hearth health and weight loss. It’s also used to battle diabetes, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease and thyroid disorders.
This oil with almost magical properties is very high in lauric acid, which is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) that works very differently than any other types of saturated fats in the body and is generally considered as one of the healthiest saturated fats because of its numerous health benefits.
In particular, medium-chain triglycerides such as lauric acid have a unique chemical structure that allows the body to absorb them whole, meaning that they’re more easily digestible and end up being used as a source of direct energy, thereby increasing energy expenditure.
And that’s not all – MCTs have fewer calories per serving, help regulate cholesterol levels and blood pressure and prevent atherosclerosis by reducing arterial damage. Unlike long-chain triglycerides like the aforementioned palmitic acid, lauric acid and other MCTs are converted to energy in the liver and muscles instead of being stored as body fat.
Regular consumption of MCTs can reduce calorie intake because they cause an increased and longer-lasting feeling of satiety. And perhaps the best thing about coconut oil is its ability to effectively reduce abdominal fat, which is the most dangerous type of fat and is highly associated with almost all chronic diseases typical for the West.
In some parts of the world that are abundant with coconuts, people eat over 60% of their calories from coconuts, which makes them both some of the biggest consumers of saturated fat in the world and some of the healthiest people in the world, with their communities lacking any evidence of heart disease or diabetes. Therefore, coconut oil needs to become a dietary staple in the diets of all health-oriented individuals.
It’s safe to assume that you can’t expect to achieve and maintain an excellent level of health only by adding these three powerful oils to your diet.
A healthy lifestyle includes equal amounts of wise food choices, regular physical exercise and effective stress-managing abilities, and if any of those three is absent, your overall well-being could suffer.
However, if you’re already on the road to optimizing your health, appearance and performance, these healthy fats will offer you some amazing benefits that are guaranteed to upgrade your health, both inside and outside.