Fats has always had a bad rep. Sometime in the mid-80s it got associated to heart diseases, obesity and a host of other health ailments that the food industry started producing alternatives that weren’t always good for the body. The appearance of margarine, touted as the best alternative for butter eventually turned out to be chock-full of unhealthy trans-fat and other not-so-easily pronounced chemicals used to hydrogenate the vegetable oils so that it would be stay solid at room temperature.
Not all fats are bad. In fact our bodies need a certain amount of good, healthy fats in order to function. The human body can make most of the types of fats it needs but that isn’t the case for omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential fats—the body can’t make them from scratch but must get them from food. Foods high in Omega-3 include fish, vegetable oils, nuts (especially walnuts), flaxseed oil, and leafy vegetables.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body and affect the function of the cell receptors in these membranes. They provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation as well as helping to maintain the delicate balance of sexual hormones in women. Because of this, omega-3 fats have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control certain auto-immune related diseases such as lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, may regulate menstruation and enhance fertility, and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions. Omega-3 fats also lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve blood vessel function, and, at higher doses, lower triglycerides and may ease inflammation, which plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis.
Fats need to be distinguished correctly so that as women, we are able to discern which foods to eat in order to nourish our bodies with the right kind of nutrition. Other types of essential fatty acids that must be obtain from diet is omega-6 fatty acids. However, most Western diet these days contain a lot more omega-6 fatty acids than recommended.
Don’t know where to start? In our Lifestyle Store there is the natural healthy snack company Amazing’ Graze that has created a line of delicious roasted nuts that are naturally flavoured with spices and natural sweeteners like maple syrup. You will find walnuts, almonds, pecans, pepitas (or pumpkin seeds) and cashew nuts, all of which are contain a good mix of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids delivered to you in convenient resealable bags so that it’s always ready whenever the urge to snack hits you. My favourite would be the Zesty Maple Glazed Nut Mix which contains an awesome mix of almonds, cashews & pumpkin seeds.