My diet is 40-60 percent fat depending on my energy requirements for the day. This may sound shocking coming from someone who’s known for guzzling organic green juice, but I am a strong believer in good fat. We need good fat for brain function, hormone production, metabolism, weight loss, energy, immune function and inflammatory response.
Sixty percent of our brain is made up of fat. The fat we eat literally feeds our brain, aiding our neurological functions and the mental clarity that enables us to live healthy, happy, inspired lives. I work nonstop and have a three-year-old — I’m always on a mission and it’s “go, go, go!” My body and brain couldn’t keep up if I were a waifish low-fat dieter. I have felt the effects of getting enough good fat into my diet, and it has radically enhanced my energy, stabilized my hormones and nourished my nervous system.
When you’re working on adding good fats to your diet, it’s helpful to understand how they work: Heat changes fatty-acid chains by oxidizing those fats, which leaves you with a degenerated fat. Degenerated fats become dense and can clog the circulatory, lymphatic and digestive systems. This can put stress on the liver and contribute to weight gain. Coconut oil is generally the best fat to use for cooking because its nutritional integrity remains stable at high temperatures.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats are vital to good health. We should aim to consume them in a 1-to-1 ratio, as too many Omega-6 fats without Omega-3s to balance them out can cause inflammation.
It’s important to eat plenty of Omega-3 fatty-acid foods; these fats are crucial to our metabolism, our brain functions and mental health, our cardiovascular health and our inflammatory response. They also help prevent developmental disorders and cancer. α-Linolenic acids — the plant oil forms of Omega-3s — are found in green leafy vegetables, seaweeds and algae, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, strawberries and kiwi.
These ALA omega-3s can be converted into the fatty acids DHA and EPA, which are also found in marine oils. DHA (which is not produced by our body) deters depression and helps with memory. EPA (which we also don’t produce on our own) helps with inflammatory response.
Omega-6s are found in abundance in sesame oil and raw dairy products, as well as in avocados, coconuts, olives, cashews and pine nuts. These energizing fats support the nervous system, power your brain, beautify your skin, cleanse your body and support your immune system. And with such delicious foods providing Omega-6s, why wouldn't you want to get all those benefits?
Here are my five favorite uses for these good fats:
Avocado is a staple in my kitchen. I can’t actually tell you my favorite use because there are too many, but I can boil it down to a top two:
- Wrapped up like a burrito in a nori sheet, with sprouts and cultured vegetables
- Peeled, quartered and stored in my freezer to add to thick green or cacao shakes with stevia and almond milk
I like to think of ghee as “spiritual butter” — when made with Vedic integrity, it feeds our life force, calms the mind and nerves, and promotes the spiritual or psychic heat that is generated through yoga. Ghee is wonderful cooking oil as it will withstand heat, but my favorite application of it is to make a tulsi tea, adding a teaspoon of ghee to my mug with a splash of rose water and a kiss of honey or stevia.
3. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is great for cooking, as it too can withstand the heat! I make a monthly batch of chocolate using coconut oil, raw cacao, reishi, cordyceps, stevia and a touch of honey. This is my daily afternoon energy boost.
4. Activated (soaked) nuts and seeds
Hemp seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, flaxseed, cashews, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamias and chia seeds make up a good portion of my diet alongside green veggies. Milks made from these nuts and seeds are hands-down my favorite way to get them into the day’s menu. I can’t remember the last day that passed without my having indulged in a nut or seed milk. There are the obvious uses in smoothies and shakes, but I also use nuts and seeds for pancakes, creamy mashed sweet potatoes, chia pudding, macaroni and cheese…the possibilities are endless!
5. Olives and cold-pressed olive oil
I am heavy-handed with olive oil drizzled on vegetables, both raw and cooked. My favorite flavor profile is olive oil, lemon and sea salt. You can make anyone happy and make any quick vegetable dish sing with this simple sauce.
Now that you’ve got some ideas, go forth and get those good fats into your menu every day! One warning, though: Don’t think you can maintain a standard American diet — high in sweets and carbs and animal products — and then dump a bunch of raw fats into it and lose weight. Good fats are an essential part of an overall healthy diet, not a magical cure-all.
Photo Credit: Neal Kreuser for mindbodygreen