Remember when fat was the bad guy? I’m referring to dietary fat – as in what’s on your plate, not the fat on your body. For those of us in our 50s, 60s, and beyond, it doesn’t seem like long ago that we were being told a low-fat diet was the key to good health… But for the past 40-50 years, the message from the medical establishment has been loud and clear: fat is bad, and saturated fats are especially evil.
However, the scientific evidence is unequivocal. Dietary fat is beneficial! In fact, it is necessary for optimal health and aging well. Read on – later I’ll reveal a few amazing benefits of eating fat, geared especially for women over 50.
Are you worried that consuming too much fat could lead to heart disease?
Being proactive about your heart health is prudent because cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for women. For decades we were betrayed. The impotent mantra that a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol are risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease needs to be exposed for what it is… Mythology.
The following two resources debunk the outdated nutritional orthodoxy regarding dietary fat. In addition, you’ll discover natural strategies – grounded in science – to prevent (and even reverse) heart disease.
In the eBook, The Diet-Heart Myth, by Chris Kresser, you’ll discover the following:
- High cholesterol is not the primary cause of heart disease
- Consuming a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease
- Eating or cooking with vegetable oils is linked to heart disease
- There are dangerous side effects associated with taking statins, and most often these drugs don’t reduce the risk of death.
The Weston A. Price Foundation has a publication titled, Myths and Truths About Cholesterol. We give copies of this document to our patients. Here is an excerpt:
- MYTH: Eating saturated fat and cholesterol-rich foods will cause cholesterol levels to rise and make people more susceptible to heart disease.
- TRUTH: Many studies show no relationship between diet and cholesterol levels; there is no evidence that saturated fat and cholesterol-rich food contribute to heart disease. As Americans have cut back on saturated fat and cholesterol-rich foods, rates of heart disease have gone up.
***I recommend you read the section in the Weston Price brochure on statins, then share it with anyone you love who takes a statin.
4 Benefits of Eating Healthy Fat
While there are more benefits than I’ve listed here, these hold particular appeal to me as a woman over 50. Take a look at how your body will benefit from incorporating plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and saturated fat in your eating plan:
- Happy Hormones: Menopause can be hormonal harmony, especially if you’re giving yourself the gift of compassionate self care through this time of transition. One way you can aid your body is to feed it adequate fat. Healthy dietary fat is mandatory for women as they transition through menopause, because fat is necessary for regulating hormone balance – and manufacturing hormones.
- Sharp Brain: Your brain is made up of fat, and it needs a diet that includes plenty of healthy fat. In particular, DHA and saturated fats improve brain function, such as memory and learning. Increasing healthy dietary fat has been shown to slow the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s.
- Radiant Skin: If your skin is even slightly dry, it is going to appear less lustrous. Including omega-3 fatty acids and saturated fat in your diet will help keep your skin lubricated and healthy looking.
- Strong Bones: Dietary fat plays a crucial role in bone health. In order for calcium to be embedded into the structure of your bones, fat is required. Studies have shown that at least 50% should be in the form of saturated fat..
Not only does including fat in your diet provide tremendous health benefits, it also makes food taste better!
Fat Enhances the Flavor of Food
Want to include more greens in your diet, and really enjoy eating them? Years ago, when I lived in Louisiana, I learned to love leafy greens. My cajun lady friends shared their recipes with me, and I picked up a few more by watching Paula Dean’s show on HGTV. Gotta love her quote: “Down south, even our vegetables have some pig hidden somewhere in it. A vegetable isn’t a vegetable without a little ham hock.” If ham doesn’t appeal to you, use organic ghee or natural, uncured bacon.
9 Healthy, Natural Fats to Enjoy (Guilt-Free)
- Ghee and Grass-Fed Butter
- Seeds, Nuts, and Nut Butters – Chia and Hemp Seeds; Pistachios, Macadamia, Walnut, and Brazil nuts; Almond and Macadamia Nut Butter
- Pastured, Organic Eggs (enjoy the whole egg – yolks can be used solo to make mayonnaise, salad dressings, in soups, and in other recipes)
- Oils: Coconut, Olive, Avocado, Walnut, and Macadamia Nut
- Cold Water, Fatty Fish: Wild Caught Salmon, Herring, Anchovies, Sardines
- Coconut Milk (full fat)
- Saturated Fat (found in grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone free, organic, free range, pastured, animal protein sources – even lard is okay to use for cooking)
Fats to Avoid
Highly processed vegetable oils, which are high in omega-6 fatty acids, are inflammatory and should not be included in your diet. Fast food, deep fried food, cookies, chips, and other “convenience foods” typically contain these types of fat. These oils have the potential to put you at risk for chronic disease. Below are some you should avoid:
- Canola Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Corn Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Rice Bran Oil
*Make sure you also avoid margarine and fake butters.
What Can You Do Today?
The first thing I suggest is that you clean out your pantry and refrigerator. Get rid of all of the “bad” oils. Then purchase one (or all) of these healthy fats: ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil – both are great for sauteing or pan frying, as they tolerate a higher heat than olive oil. Avocado oil is great for making salad dressings, along with lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
- Watkins, B A, et al, “Importance of Vitamin E in Bone Formation and in Chrondrocyte Function” Purdue University, Lafayette, IN, AOCS Proceedings, 1996; Watkins, B A, and M F Seifert, “Food Lipids and Bone Health,” Food Lipids and Health, R E McDonald and D B Min, eds, p 101, Marcel Dekker, Inc, New York, NY, 1996
- The Diet-Heart Myth: https://chriskresser.com/heart-disease/
- Weston A. Price Foundation, Myths and Truths About Cholesterol