Whilst most of us understand the essential role of proteins and carbohydrates and why we need them in our food, what is often forgotten, or in some cases intentionally avoided out of misguided fear (I blame the unfortunate ‘fat-free’ dietary movement of the 90’s and early 2000’s), is the importance of healthy fats in our daily diets.
Understandably, so many of us fell victim to the misinformed rhetoric that “fat equals bad”. And yes, whilst saturated and trans fats (those found in your bacon, deep fried chips, cheese and most fast foods) definitely pose a threat to one’s health, healthy fats are actually essential to so many different daily functions of the body.
Role of Healthy Fats in the Body
Healthy fats have a myriad of important, life-sustaining roles in the body, and some particular hormones (the chemical messengers within the body responsible for every bodily function) are even made up of fats.
Healthy fats have phenomenal anti-inflammatory benefits, which help to ensure the body remains in homeostasis – the desired state of complete balance and cohesive functionality.
Some additional roles of healthy fats include (but are most definitely not limited to):
→ Regulating body temperature
→ Insulating and protecting vital organs by surrounding them with fat cells (otherwise known as adipose tissue)
→ Transporting waste out of the body and destroying harmful bacteria
→ Promoting successful absorption of fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K
So by now, hopefully you’re getting more of a sense of how essential and amazing healthy fats are to living a happy, inflammation-free life. But where do we source these phenomenal macronutrients?
Sources of healthy fats
As the body cannot produce its own essential fatty acids that are within healthy fats (hence the ‘essential’ component), we need to source these from our diet. The best sources of healthy fats come from foods such as avocado, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines etc), nuts and … SEEDS.
It may not be intuitive to you to reach for a handful of seeds when you’re trying to meet your daily intake of healthy fats, but you’ll be surprised by the benefit that adding a few teaspoons of seeds into your smoothie or over your salads can provide.
Two of my favourite seed-derived sources of healthy fats are chia seeds and hemp seeds.
Chia seeds have a wonderfully potent nutritional profile and offer a great source of not only healthy fats, but also protein, dietary fibre and antioxidants, thus effectively boosting the nutritional content of any meal you add them too!
Much like chia seeds, hemp seeds are abundant in healthy fats, including omega-3s and omega-6s, and have even been associated with the assistive healing of numerous ailments from dull skin to painful joints.
How to Incorporate Chia and Hemp Seeds into Meals
If you’re not a fan of chia pudding (I suppose I forgive you) or you’re not super into the nutty aroma of hemp seeds (again, forgiven), please do not worry – there are so many ways to incorporate them into your regular meals that you won’t even notice them if you don’t want to.
They can be sprinkled into smoothies and over soups, blended into your favourite salad dressings, and even baked into your favourite cake.
To get you started, feel free to check out my favourite three breakfast ideas that incorporate hemp and chia seeds as a source of healthy fats here.
Women’s Hormone Specialist
Despite having studied human biology, it wasn't until Mads began struggling with imbalanced hormones herself that she realised just how little us women know about our bodies & how to best support our own health. Now out on a mission to educate & empower women in their own health journeys, Mads helps her clients balance their hormones, clear their symptoms and teaches them how to maintain their health long-term.