Eating a low-fat diet is detrimental to mental health. It is important that we eat quality, healthy fats to replenish our system and keep our brains healthy. Our cells are made up of three basic components: the plasma membrane, the cytoplasm, and the nucleus. The plasma membrane is made up of fats and is responsible for maintaining the basic shape of a cell and for detoxification and absorption. The plasma membrane is made up of the lipid bilayer, which is formed from three types of lipid molecules. These lipid molecules are phospholipids, cholesterol, and glycolipids. A healthy lipid bilayer is what makes it possible for us to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, fatty acids, as well as steroids, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. While our bodies can produce some cholesterol and fatty acid on its own, it cannot produce enough for proper cell function. When we don’t add healthy dietary fats, proper absorption can break down and our very cell structure is at risk. When our cells are not operating effectively, not only do we lose out on absorbing important nutrients, our bodies also become less efficient with detoxification and our ability to rebuild and repair is compromised. We begin to experience health issues when our cells are not operating optimally. We may start to feel bad, off, or out of balance. And eventually organ function will suffer and we may begin to develop disease.
Health fats serve many important functions in the body. They add flavor, improve satiety, help our bodies balance inflammation, provide a source of energy, act as building blocks for cell membranes and hormones, aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, allow for the proper utilization of proteins, and serve as a protective lining for the organs of the body.
Not just any fats are beneficial for cell structure and efficient operation. The typical western diet is full of inflammatory fats – trans fats and omega-6 – from processed oils. It’s important that we eat plenty of healthy fats that balance omega 6 with omega 3 and eliminate trans fats. There are three main categories of fats. They are saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats contain a single bond between fatty acid carbon atoms. This makes saturated fats the most stable of all the categories of fats. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and found in red meat, whole dairy products, cocoa, palm, and coconuts. Monounsaturated fats contain one double bond. Monounsaturated fats can be found in olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, nuts, and avocados. And finally, polyunsaturated fats contain multiple double bonds. Polyunsaturated fats are found in corn, safflower, sunflower, and soybean oils as well as in fatty fish. When margarine and shortening are formed from polyunsaturated fats, trans fats are produced. These trans fats are should be avoided at all costs.
Healthy fats can be incorporated into a balanced, whole foods diet by consuming fatty fish, avocados, nuts, coconut oil, avocado oil, bone broths, cold pressed olive oil that has been placed in dark bottles, duck fat, and beef tallow. Choose avocado oil, coconut oil, duck fat, or beef tallow for cooking. And choose, cold pressed olive oil that is properly stored for salad dressing. Animal fats should be from 100% pasture raised sources to ensure the highest nutrient density. Keep in mind that too much fat, even healthy fat will overload the gall-bladder and liver. Balance is key!