WHAT????  You thought you weren’t supposed to consume any fat, right?  Actually, eating certain kinds of fats can make you happier and smarter!

This post is courtesy of Sheila Robertson at Optimal Body Balance.

So what fats are the right kind? First let’s briefly go over the different sources of fats. In our diets we consume saturated fats, unsaturated fats and trans fat.

Saturated fats increase the bad cholesterol, so we want to limit them to no more than 10% of total calories. Saturated fats are found mostly in animal products and some vegetable oils. Food labels will tell how much saturated fat is in a product and you should avoid and limit any products that are high in this type of fat.

Unsaturated fats can actually help lower bad cholesterol if they are used in the place of saturated fats. So if you are eating too much saturated fats, the cholesterol-lowering benefits of unsaturated fats aren’t going to do you any good. And even though unsaturated fats do have health benefits, you have to limit how much you eat because they are high in calories. There are 2 kinds of unsaturated fats:

  • monounsaturated fats: olive oil for example
  • polyunsaturated fats: fish, flaxseed and walnuts for example

Trans fats have double the bad effects. Not only to trans fats raise your bad cholesterol, they also lower your good cholesterol. You should avoid trans fats whenever possible. They are often found in fried foods, processed foods, baked goods and margarine. If you ever see the hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil on the ingredient list that means it has trans fat in it. You’ll see on many food packages the claim “0 trans fats” — You should still flip the package over and look at the nutrition facts and the ingredient list. A lot of the food companies have reformulated their products to get rid of the trans fats, but they’ve simply replaced them with saturated fats, which are almost as bad for you. Or the food companies have changed the serving size so that the amount of trans fat per serving is almost nothing, but if you eat a couple servings you could be getting a substantial amount of trans fat.

As you can probably tell from the descriptions above, we want to avoid saturated and trans fats and replace them with sources of unsaturated fats (in appropriate amounts). Most of us know that eating the wrong kinds of fats can cause problems with cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. But it turns out that fats can effect our moods and our brains as well. The effects we may experience from eating certain kinds of fats are very gradual — eating the right balance of fats may enhance mood, guard against depression and keep the brain working the way it should longer into old age.

Why does fat have an effect on the brain? Because the brain itself is 2/3 fat! Eating the right kinds of fats promotes healthy brain development, repair and maintenance.

In the Optimal Body Balance program we personalize your diet so that you know what kind of fats to eat and how much fat to eat per meal. Fat-free doesn’t work! We’ve been told over and over that fat-free is healthy and that just simply isn’t the truth. You have to eat fat to lose fat and you have to eat fat for your body to function properly. Our bodies need protein, carbohydrates and fat in order to be healthy… the problem is finding the right balance of those nutrients for your optimal body balance.

Here are optimal fat sources that we recommend:

  • flax seed oil (1 teaspoon)
  • extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, walnut oil, grapseed oil (1 teaspoon)
  • mayonnaise made with canola oil or grapeseed oil (1 teaspoon)
  • olives (8 -10 medium sized)
  • avocado (1/4 of whole)
  • organic butter (1 teaspoon)
  • almonds or hazelnuts (10 – 12 whole nuts)
  • walnuts, macadamia nuts or pecan halves (7 – 8 pieces)
  • pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds (2 tablespoons)
  • nut butters made from the nuts listed above (1 tablespoon)

Serving sizes are listed next to the fat source; we recommend eating 1-2 servings of an optimal fat per meal. Don’t forget to switch it up and get variety in your fat sources.

Mind-Body-Mood Advisor: Smart People Eat Healthy Fats, Jeffery Rossman PhD, http://www.rodale.com/healthy-fats-0?page=0%2C1