The Skinny on Healthy Fats

Many people are concerned about their intake of saturated fats from vegetarian foods such as nuts and seeds, coconuts, and avocados. While it is true that a high intake of saturated fat is linked to increased risk of heart disease and arteriosclerosis, it is important to understand that there is a difference between saturated fats from animal sources versus saturated fats from vegetable sources.

Vegetable fats are always a better choice than animal fats because they usually also contain poly and mono-unsaturated fats which help lower LDL (bad cholesterol). Fatty acid-rich vegetables also contain fiber and phytonutrients (nutrients only found in plants). Nuts and seeds are rich in protein as well as vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, phosphorous and potassium. They are also a good source of anti-oxidants. In general, including some fat in a meal helps a person to feel satiated and thereby avoid overeating. Best of all, because cholesterol is only found in animal products, plant-based foods contain absolutely no cholesterol.

Tropical oils such as Coconut and Palm oil have been used in natural medicine for healthy immune system, the thyroid, and the heart. Coconut oil also has been used to stabilize blood sugar levels and help prevent symptoms of hypoglycemia.

Avoiding excess amounts of any saturated fat is a good practice, but remember that some saturated fat is critical for maintaining health. Saturated fats from plant sources are a key component to a healthy lifestyle.