Ever hear a grandparent exclaim that a fat baby is a healthy baby? There may be some truth to that. I didn’t believe it either, but five books and months of nutritional counseling later I converted to a “fats are good” mindset. Now, not just any fats… healthy fats. According to the progressive (yet actually regressive) advice in the book Nourishing Traditions, we should consider adopting some of the diet principles of our ancestors:
- organic, unprocessed animal fats
- soaked, unrefined whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds
- raw dairy
- homemade condiments, sauces and beverages
- fermented foods
Today, I’m just going to focus on the first – healthy fats… conventional and organic.
HEALTHY FATS PRINCIPLES:
HEALTHY FATS IN PRACTICE
So, no, you don’t want to strive for an unsafe body weight, but you may want to investigate if increasing your intake of healthy fats is appropriate for you. Just as a baby’s fat is meant to support development and provide energy, the right fat in an adult helps the body absorb those essential vitamins A, D and K and is turned into energy. It’s the excess not used by the body (along with unused carbohydrates and proteins) that is then converted to that harmful body fat.
Research has complicated the commonly accepted connection between saturated fat and heart disease. 3,4 While our understanding continues to evolve, experts recommend that more healthy fats (from high-quality, organic sources) should be incorporated into the American diet. They come in a variety of forms, such as:
Vegetable oils (like corn, safflower, canola, sunflower and soybean) cause damage to cells from free radicals which occur when heated past their smoke point. Such damage causes inflammation seen in many chronic diseases. Opt instead for high-quality stable fats such as coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, refined palm oils, and clarified butter (ghee).
- PROTEINS & BEANS
Fish, especially salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna, contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids which are good for brain and heart health.
Eggs are an inexpensive protein boasting healthy fat and are even sometimes fortified with extra omega-3s. More mood-lifting omega-3s are found in legumes like kidney beans, navy beans, Great Northern beans and
Aaa-vocados! Avocados are great for aiding in absorption of nutrients like vitamins A, D, K and E and has nearly 20 vitamins and minerals in the fruit itself. 5 They are also an excellent source of potassium, lutein (good for eyesight), oleic acid & avocation B (found to fight some cancers), antioxidants, and the B vitamins: folate, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. Niacin helps improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels for healthier arteries and lowers blood pressure and inflammation. 6
Want to lose weight with this healthy fat? You can! Research has found that the monounsaturated fat in avocados can aid in weight loss. Plus, they’re high in fiber, so avocados help you feel fuller to eat less. They may even help relieve osteoarthritis and symptoms of an enlarged prostate (4x more than oranges). Diabetic? This is your fruit! 7
- NUTS & SEEDS
Small servings of nuts like hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans and especially walnuts are all heart-healthy fats. The same goes for pumpkin seeds, along with sunflower and sesame seeds. Flaxseed also contains fiber, can aid in younger-looking skin and is anti-inflammatory.
- FORTIFIED FOODS
You may find some milk, bread and breakfast bars are fortified with those important omega-3s, more of which we should strive to consume.
MORE CONVENTIONAL PROS
To legitimize these claims, let’s recognize a few experts contributing to this deep network promoting traditional diets.
Sally Fallon Morell’s ancestral nutrition is based on the research of Dr. Weston A. Price 8 which began in the 1930s. They are joined by educator and board-certified practitioner in anti-aging medicine Donna Gates, M.ED., ABAAHP. Gates is author of groundbreaking books on The Body Ecology Diet, 9 which focus on sugar-free, gluten-free, casein-free and probiotic-rich meals. Also leading nutritional education in this area are certified doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist Dr. Josh Axe; 10 founder of the Maker’s Diet, 11, 12 naturopathic researcher Jordan Rubin; and the late nutritionist and researcher Dr. Mary Enig, 13 author of Eat Fat, Lose Fat.
I’ve read them all and highly recommend – real eye-openers!
1 Weston A. Price Foundation, “The Skinny on Fats”
2 Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, “Evolutionary Aspects of Diet, the Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio and Genetic Variation: Nutritional Implications for Chronic Diseases”
3 WebMD,, “Is Butter Back? The Truth about Saturated Fats”
5 CaliforniaAvocado.com, “AvocadoFacts”
6 WebMD, “Health Benefits of Avocados”
8 International Foundation for Nutrition and Health, “Weston A. Price, DDS”
11 Livestrong, “Maker’s Diet Food List”
13 The Weston A. Price Foundation, , “The Brilliance and Courage of Dr. Mary Enig”