You’ve probably heard by now that the low-fat trend of the the last couple decades was a big mistake as far as weight management and over-all health. In an attempt to cut fat on our bodies, we cut it out of our diets. The thinking seemed logical, but one problems was, we replaced those fats with carbohydrates and low-fat, sugary foods.
Carbohydrates break down into sugar, and sugar is stored as fat. The real key to healthy weight is a low carb, low sugar diet. But in addition to weight loss, the benefits of healthy fats are numerous and we were missing out on them! There are even studies showing that healthy fats protect our cells from certain diseases, and excessive carbohydrate and sugar intake can actually cause problems leading to diabetes and even neurological diseases.
Let me emphasize how important healthy fats are and explain it because I know it can get confusing.
What is a healthy fat?
Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats, specifically Omega 3 and 9. Omega 6 is another unsaturated fat which we consume a lot more of than we used to. We get Omega 6s from vegetable oils which are common in our western diets, and need to balance them out with Omega 3s and some 9s to reap the most benefits from each of them.
Saturated fat is controversial. The old standard was that it was bad for your heart, but now with a better understanding that fat doesn’t need to be avoided, but that balancing the kinds of fats and the total calories is the healthiest way to live. My conclusion is that natural sources of saturated fat, like non-chemically laden butter (ideally coconut butter) is okay sparingly. The only fats to avoided are trans fats, which are highly processed and chemically altered leading to inflammation and spurring multiple health issues.
Reducing the level of trans and saturated fats and increasing the levels of mono and polyunsaturated, specifically Omega 3s and 9s, helps protect arterial walls and keeps the blood from excessive clotting and thus clogging of arteries. They also help reduce the bad and raise good cholesterol levels. All of this protects against heart attack and stroke. These fats also have the benefits of aiding hormone regulation and blood sugar management among other benefits.
On low fat diets, we tend to feel hungrier because we’re being deprived of the foods which help us feel satisfied for longer and nourish us in ways other foods can’t. So the solution for many is snack on crackers, chips, or even rice cakes. This spikes our blood sugar and our bodies break down the simple carbs, stores them as fat, and then asks for more, leading us to eat more than we should.
Healthy fats are not only more beneficial and satisfying than carbohydrates, but they actually support our brain health. There are more and more studies showing the links between healthy fat deprivation and depression, schizophrenia, memory loss and Alzheimer’s Disease.
I’ll go ahead and say it; you still have to pay attention to serving size. Just because good fats are good for you, that doesn’t mean you should eat an entire bag of nuts or a giant slab of salmon. The basis of a balanced diet is to pay attention to what you’re putting in your body and how it affects you.
That being said, I’m so happy that I get to have healthy fats because I hate feeling hungry. It makes me irritable. Do you know how great it feels to be slimmer than I even have in my life, and never feel like I’m starving or deprived? If you don’t, it’s awesome. You should try it.
Nuts are among the top choices of foods that offer these healthy fats. I like to experiment with different ways to prepare nuts because they’re one of the cleanest, leanest, and most satisfying snacks you get have.
I’ve started soaking and drying nuts lately as this makes them easier to digest. The phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors which make them difficult to digest are broken down by soaking them. It also allows you to absorb the nutrients better as your body isn’t burdened trying to get through all that extra junk.
Soaking nuts is easy. Soak 1 lb of nuts in filtered water with 1/8-1/4 tsp of sea salt for 7 or 8 hours, then spread them onto a cookie sheet and let them dry out in a 150 degree oven for 12-24 hours or until they’re crisp and toasty.
Drying them is essential because if you don’t they’ll get moldy, but heating them above 150 degrees destroys some nutrients. I used to dry roast at 350 for 10 minutes all the time, but I’m trying to be particularly kind to my digestive system and to get the most nutrient bang for my buck as possible, so I soak and dry at low heat for longer. I have to say, I do notice a big difference in the way I feel after eating soaked vs raw.
Almonds are great, but I like to shift now and again and have different kinds to choose from. There are so many different textures and flavors to explore.
These two were the most popular amongst my taste testers.
- Onion-Mustard Cashews or Macadamia Nuts
- Spicy Ginger Cashews or Macadamia Nuts.
The onion mustard version is reminiscent of those honey mustard pretzel nuggets. I used to really like those and so does Nick. So this is a nice, much healthier way to get that crunchy mustardy snack. The ginger version is spicy and succinct. One for the ginger lovers. It would be good with a bit of sweetener like stevia, but I haven’t tried it.
The fattier nuts like cashews and macadamia are best for these, as their creamy texture and neutral flavors allow the spices to really shine through. You get Omega 3s in the nuts, and Omega 9s in the olive oil. Since the olive oil is drizzled raw and not heated, the benefits aren’t diminished at all.
Turmeric is one of the most anti-inflammatory foods you can eat and bears it’s own clout for battling Alzheimer’s as well as cancer. It’s so soothing for the joints, and it’s got such a nice warm flavor; it’s one of my favorite spices.
These are a convenient take along snack by the handful. One of my favorite ways to have them is as an afternoon snack sprinkled on some raw fermented sauerkraut and/or with a sliced or mashed avocado.
Have you been enjoying more healthy fats lately? Do you notice a difference in how you feel?
- For Mustard Onion
- 1 Cup cashews or macadamia nuts
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp ground mustard powder (Optional)
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- For Spicy Ginger
- 1 Cup Nuts
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- If soaking and drying-
- Soak 1 lb of nuts in filtered water with ⅛-1/4 tsp of sea salt for 7 or 8 hours
- Spread nuts onto cookie sheet and let them dry out in a 150 degree oven for 12-24 hours or until they're crisp and toasty.
- After soaking and drying, if desired, simply toss nuts in olive oil
- Sprinkle with spices
- Stir to coat nuts