Hi, this is Dr. Steve Gangemi, and in this final section of Food Groups That Heal, I want to talk about fats. I’m not going to discuss fats too much in depth, because that’s an important section we talk about in inflammation when it comes to injuries in training. But I want to discuss a little about, basically, the good fats out there.
So the good fats you want to have in your diet are raw natural nuts, seeds, we have natural oils that are very good for your body, such as extra virgin olive oil. That’s really a great fat to be using in your dishes, especially after you cook. Extra virgin coconut oil is a really good oil to be using for cooking. We have butter; it’s a great source to be using for cooking, too. A lot of beneficial fats are found in butter. I will talk more about this in the anti-inflammatory injury piece. And then we have fats that occur naturally, along with the protein sources, like in meats, eggs, fish. These are all beneficial fats. People talk about fish oil and how healthy they are for our bodies, and tissue inflammation, your nervous system, hormone levels. Pretty much everything in your body, we need a balance of these types of fats.
So, just to go over the balance of fats very quickly: there’s omega-6 fats, which are nuts and seeds and our vegetable oils. Unfortunately a lot of these are refined, and then we use them for cooking because we can heat up a high temperature oil much higher than we can if its unrefined. In other words, you can get a peanut oil which has some very beneficial properties in it if you ate the actual peanuts or peanut butter, just peanuts smashed down into their oils, but then we refine that peanut oil and we can heat it to a very high temperature and cook with it, and it becomes harmful to us, because heat and light is a great way to destroy the beneficial properties of oils.
So, we need a certain amount of these omega-6 oils in our diet throughout the day, and we also need some omega-3s, and that’s our fish oil, flax oil. We’ll get some omega-3 oils in walnuts to some degree, but mostly its the fish type oils. And there should be a balance between your sixes and your threes. It’s hard to figure out unless you did a lab test, but you want to basically be including these foods in your diet throughout the day, as well as the mono and saturated fats from extra virgin olive oil and especially the beneficial type of saturated fats that come in a source of what’s called a medium chain triglyceride, that’s mostly found in coconut oil. Coconut is a great type of fat to be using for cooking. It’s great to put in smoothies, it’s great to use as a spread on certain dishes or to cook with coconut milk that is not watered down and been refined. Coconut oil is a great way to help fight inflammation in your body and give you really good energy throughout the day, without storing that fat as adipose tissue, as fat on your body.
The last fat I want to mention is one that you should be getting throughout the day, too, that is touted as a really bad fat which is called arachidonic acid. I do go in to detail more with this type of fat in the inflammatory section when it comes to injuries because it has to do with healing, but it’s also probably the best fat that you can eat throughout the day. Arachidonic acid roughly makes up about 20% of your brain and your nervous system. It’s what’s found high in breast milk; it helps a baby develop neurologically. These fats are only found in nature, in their natural context. They’re found in grass-fed beef, they’re found in egg yolks, they’re found in butter, and they’re found in heavy creams. Again, these are the foods that we’ve all grown up to think that they’re bad for us because they raise our cholesterol and they make us fat, but they’re actually very powerful healing type of fats because of their antioxidant effects, and because of how they help our nervous systems and our immune systems, as well as with rebuilding and repairing our tissue.
So, think about getting some egg yolks in your diet throughout the day. Think about using heavy cream. My patients love it when I tell them they can use heavy cream over their skimmed milk. Unfortunately a lot of kids today are brought up without using butter, and they’re using frozen yogurt rather than ice cream, or they’re using skimmed milk instead of whole milk. You need to get these fats in your diet at any age, but especially as kids are going through puberty. You need to be using, obviously, butter rather than margarine, and eating animal products that are from grass fed rather than grain fed sources. You’ll get high levels of arachidonic acid, you’ll get high levels of saturated fats, and you’ll help balance your overall fatty acid biochemistry in your body to help improve your health and improve your performance.