In the last post, I explained the different types of fats and what might make them “good” or “bad.”
Now it’s time to dive a little deeper on the fats that destroy health. These are the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that make you feel tired, inflamed, and in pain.
To be clear though, consuming these does not make you “bad.” You can absolutely live a healthy and happy life with these fats making occasional appearances.
The key here is occasional. Because if you could make some simple changes to help your body feel the way you want to, wouldn’t you want to do it? At the bottom of this post I list some super simple ways to swap out fats that take away from your health with fats that add to it.
Let’s dig in on how and why the PUFAs I mention in the last post are destroying our health.
Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) are everywhere
I believe there are two big issues with our modern diet. Well, I believe there are a lot more than two, but these are the biggies. If you change these two things you’ll see huge improvements in your health.
They are the amount of processed, high starch carbohydrates/sugar and easily damaged polyunsaturated fats.
We’ll skip the sugar/refined carb talk today and stick with the easily damaged PUFAs.
To remind you, the PUFA oils I’m referring to here are soy, canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, and cottonseed.
The problem isn’t usually what you are using for cooking at home. It’s not that hard to cook with healthy fats and oils in your home and that’s an easy swap.
It’s all the sauces, dressings, snacks, other packaged foods and restaurant cooking where this really adds up. It’s really easy to be unaware of how often these PUFAs are making their way into your body.
Start looking at every single label for any food or ingredient you use and see how often they turn up. You might be surprised!
If you’re eating food from a restaurant and you’re able to look up their nutritional information online, do that. Again, you might be surprised at how often you see those oils.
Being a label detective is one aspect of taking control of your health. Only you can do that!
Fats and Inflammation
The types of fats we consume play a very important role in your body’s inflammation process. Healthy PUFAs are excellent at helping reduce inflammation. But where you get them and what processing they have gone through matters.
PUFAs that help you reduce inflammation include: the fats in fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout, avocados, olives, and different nuts and seeds.
Those that add TO inflammation include those “vegetable” and seed oils listed earlier: soy, sunflower, safflower, corn, cottonseed, and canola.
Consuming more pro-inflammatory fats and not enough anti-inflammatory fats sets your body up to struggle. It leads to gut issues, hormone imbalances, blood sugar issues, joint and muscle issues, and fatigue.
If you swap out these fats you will be surprised at how much better you’ll start to feel!
Crowd out the unhealthy PUFAs
The best way to avoid the PUFAs that destroy health is to focus on eating whole foods at every meal and cooking with either saturated or monounsaturated fats.
Include several servings of colorful vegetables everyday. Frozen veggies can make this easier. Pre-washed salad greens can make this easier as well.
Be sure to include protein with each meal, ensuring you get some of those fatty fish each week. Bonus points for bivalves like clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops.
Use extra virgin olive oil, butter or ghee from grass-fed cows if possible, or animal fats like tallow for cooking.
Focus on ADDING these things into your diet and you will just automatically be avoiding the other PUFAs.
Making it a lifestyle
Having a healthy and enjoyable life doesn’t mean you need to 100% avoid those PUFAs all the time. The more you do of course, the better your body will be able to withstand those times that you do have the chips cooked in sunflower oil, or the occasional french fries.
Here are some simple ways to avoid PUFAs in everyday life:
- Opt for plantain chips cooked in coconut oil, or potato chips cooked in olive or avocado oil. These are still treat foods, but they avoid the refined PUFAs and damage that comes with them. Brands like Barnana, Siete, Jackson’s, and Boulder Canyon have these options.
- Make your own quick salad dressings by combining your favorite vinegar with extra virgin olive oil, some mustard, and a bit of honey or maple syrup. Or choose a store-bought brand like Primal Kitchen that uses only avocado oil
- Keep salad dressings at work if you often get a salad somewhere out. Get the veggies and protein and then just use your dressing instead of the PUFA-filled one that comes with the restaurant salad.
- Swap your PUFA-filled mayonnaise for one from Primal Kitchen, Chosen Foods, or Sir Kensington. Even their sunflower one is a decent choice because the sunflower oil has not been heated.
- Choose raw or dry-roasted nuts. If they just say “roasted” they are very likely roasted in one of those PUFAs that shouldn’t be heated. Check the ingredient list.
All these choices will add up and allow your body to be healthier so you can better withstand those times when you are out. Adopting a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be an all or nothing endeavor. It does take consistency but it doesn’t have to be that complicated!