Monday, June 8, 2015

7 Steps to Healthy Hormones - Step 5: Eat Good Fats

When it comes to Healthy Hormonal Balancing, eating good fats is an absolute must. Eating a variety of foods high in short, medium and long chain fatty acid is key to keeping your hormones in check. Not only are these essential fats fundamental building blocks for hormone production, they speed up your metabolism and promote weight loss. Healthy foods that are packed with healthy fats that are good for healthy hormonal balance include: flaxseed, chia seeds, coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter and wild caught salmon.

Some people try to eliminate fats from their diet altogether. But that's not the answer to obtaining optimal health. Our bodies need nutritious and fatty foods as an essential part of our diet. 

To learn why, let's start with a quick summary of the basic types of fat:

·        Saturated: These are the fats we love, but should hate. They're found in animal products including dairy products and eggs. They are also found in some vegetable oils such as coconut and palm. Saturated fats can make the body produce excess cholesterol and, as a result, are often associated with an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and other disorders. These fats are usually solid at room temperature and get even harder when chilled. In general, we're better off without them.

·        Monounsaturated: These fats are a bit better for you. They're found in almond, peanut, sesame, canola and olive oils and avocados. Monounsaturated fats, especially olive oil, actually help decrease blood cholesterol levels. These fats usually harden at cold temperatures or become cloudy when refrigerated.

·        Polyunsaturated: These fats are good for you in moderation. They're found in corn, safflower, sunflower and soybean oils as well as in walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts. Polyunsaturated fats have a long history of being healthy for the heart. These fats are liquid at room temperature and stay liquid when chilled. But be careful in storing them: polyunsaturated oils go rancid more easily than other oils, so keep them refrigerated.

·        Transfatty acids: These fats, found in products such as margarine, are made through the process of hydrogenation -- converting polyunsaturated oils into saturated fat. They are harmful substances that can increase cholesterol levels as much as saturated fats do. Trans fatty acids are also found in processed foods such as chips, cookies, prepared salads and anything else made with hydrogenated oils.

·        Essential fatty acids: EFAs are the best type of fats -- and since your body doesn't make them naturally, you must get them from your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish and flaxseed oils. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in beans, nuts, seeds and some vegetable oils including flaxseed, corn, soybean and safflower. In either case, the benefits are immeasurable: EFAs are important for the regulation of cholesterol production, hormonal balance and immune function. They're necessary for healthy skin, hair, nails, mucous membranes, nerves and arteries. An inadequate amount of EFAs can contribute to skin and menstrual disorders, diarrhea and weak nails. EFAs have also been proven to guard against heart disease, cancer and arthritis.

Nutritionally Essential

Quality fats and oils are nutritionally essential. The body uses fatty acids to store energy. Also, polyunsaturated fats contain fatty acids that are necessary for synthesizing hormones, making fat-soluble vitamins available to the body, and maintaining the flexibility of cell membranes. Stored fat, as much as we want to get rid of it, provides a source of energy for the body, protects organs and insulates the body to keep it warm.

Nutritionists now know that if you don't get enough good fats in your diet, your body will store fat in order to perform its daily functions. So, if you're trying to lose weight, maintaining a low-fat or fat-free diet can actually defeat the purpose: EFAs are necessary to ensure normal burning of stored fat by muscle tissue. They also help the body burn calories more efficiently.

Healthy Fat Choices
The ideal amount: No more than 30% of your total daily calories should come from fat, and definitely no more than 10% should come from saturated fats.
By eating a diet high in vegetables, fruits, grains and beans, you'll automatically tend toward the healthiest ratio of fats in your diet. If you're going to eat animal products, eat mostly fish, seafood, skinless poultry and small portions of beef. Use oils sparingly, stick to the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated varieties and choose ones that are unrefined and cold-pressed. To get your EFAs, use flaxseed oil for salad dressing, or drizzle some lightly on steamed vegetables.

When it comes to cooking, be aware that different oils respond better to different temperatures. Some have lower smoking points and are appropriate for sauteeing. I personally prefer butter or coconut oil if I am going to heat a fat.

Rule of Thumb:

Be sure to steer clear from oils high in Omega-6s (safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, canola, soybean and peanut) and load up on rich sources of natural Omega-3s (wild fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and grass-fed animal products). There is a type of Omega-6 fat you want to try and get in your diet called GLA.  GLA (gamma-linoleic acid) can be taken in supplement form by using evening primrose oil or borage oil and it’s also found in hemp seeds.  Studies have shown supplementing with GLA can support healthy progesterone levels.

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