Natural, unrefined fats of all types are a critical nutrient for our overall wellbeing. It’s worth noting that not all oils and fats are created equal.
Heavily processed, hydrogenated, ‘trans’ fats and oils that are used in prepared, packaged foods such as margarines and potato chips, can be extremely damaging to the body. While ‘acting’ like fat in our cellular structure, they do not behave in the same way.
However, fats and oils from whole foods and other high-quality sources can steady our metabolism, keep hormone levels in balance, feed our hungry brains, nourish our skin, hair and nails and provide lubrication to keep the body functioning fluidly.
Our bodies also need fat for insulation, particularly in the colder months, and to protect and hold our organs in place.
Every cell in our body requires fat to help give rigidity and optimum performance. For example our cells and our brains are comprised of approximately 50% saturated fat. Adding healthy fats into our diets can transform our mood and our mind health, quickly brightening our day.
Fat soluble vitamins need fat to be absorbed eg Vitamins D, A & K. There are many great reasons for including good fat at each meal. Magnesium, a nutrient many of us are deficient in, needs saturated fat to be absorbed.
A healthy percentage of high-quality fat in a meal satisfies and leaves feelings of energy, fulfillment and warmth.
When there are excess fats and oils in the diet or they’re not been metabolised efficiently, especially heavily processed and refined or vegetable oils, symptoms can include weight gain, skin breakouts, high blood pressure, liver strain and an overall feeling of mental, physical and emotional heaviness.
Signs of insufficient high quality fats are brittle hair and nails, dry skin, hunger after meals and feeling cold.
There are many sources of healthy fats and oils:
When selecting oils, buy the highest quality organic products you can afford, since cooking oils are the backbone of so many dishes.
Good words to look for on the label are organic, first-pressed, cold-pressed, extra-virgin and unrefined.
Avoid expeller-pressed, refined and solvent extracted.
A bit about coconut
Coconut is a highly nutritious food, it is very high in Lauric Acid (the saturated fatty acid).
This type of fat is easily absorbed by the human body and used instantly as energy.
There is research showing it can have a positive effect on cholesterol.
Dr Bruce Fyfe has written a couple of books on it, eg ‘Coconut Cures’.
A parting thought
Improving your wellbeing may not be as simple as consuming more fats! Are you absorbing this wonderful nutrient in the first place? For example a ‘congested’ liver and/or gall bladder will mean fats are inefficiently absorbed and you may actually feel a bit ‘heavier’ eating more healthy fats. In which case, support your liver health first and foremost.
Chia is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, it is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. It was cultivated by the Aztecs, and used as a food back in the 15th century. ‘Chia’ is actually the mayan word for strength. The seeds were used by these ancient cultures as a mega-energy food, expecially for their running messengers. In Mexico they say that 1 tablespoon of chia seeds can sustain a person for 24 hours!
Chia is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and in a 28 gm sample (approx. 3 tbsp) it is said to contain:
The seeds absorb water and create a mucilaginous gel. Because of the high antioxidant content, the seeds stay stable for longer, compared to flax for example that may turn rancid. Chia can be stored for 4-5 years without detioriation.
Now, for some of it’s medicinal benefits:
Due to their water-absorption quality, it can help prolong hydration and the retaining of electrolytes, especially during exertion.
There is no nutritional difference between black and white chia seeds.
This is more dependent on where and how they’re grown.
That’s all well & good… but, what’s the best way to eat them?
Check out the zesty, sweet dessert here & a few other ideas.
Turmeric is also a member of the ginger plant family.
It’s native to South Asia and the spice itself comes from the rhizome of the plant.
Turmeric has been used in India for 2500 years and is a major part of the Ayurvedic system of medicine. It was first used as a dye and then later for its medicinal properties.
Some of the many health benefits of Turmeric & Ginger:
When fresh Turmeric is available, hunt around the shops and the rhizome itself (looks similar to ginger) can sometimes be found.
Enjoy Ginger and Turmeric freshly grated into your meals or in dressings! The other way I love to enjoy these foods is steeped in some warm water with a squeeze of lemon as a delicious tea. The recipe for this is here.
How do you enjoy these wonderful healing foods, ginger and turmeric?