The Importance of Healthy Fats

Fats are something we’ve all been trained to avoid, but there are a group of fats that our bodies need to stay healthy.

During the carb-crazy dieting years, fats received a lot of flack from the general public and dietitians alike. As it turns out, some fats are actually good for you. What foods contain them, and how much should you eat in a day?

If you’ve been searching for an answer to the fat dilemma, then I have the answers you crave.

The Two Fats

Not all fats are created equal, and it is important to understand the differences between them. There are mainly two types; saturated and unsaturated.

Unsaturated fats are oils, meaning that they stay liquid at room temperature. Saturated fats, on the other hand, turn into a gelatinous solid at room temperature. While we do need both in out diet, less saturated fat is what we should be aiming for.

How Fat Helps

Our bodies use both types of fat as a source of energy as well as a way to store it. It also helps us to absorb certain nutrients, like vitamins A and E, along with antioxidants. I was surprised to find out that these fats also help support our cell structure.

So, fat really isn’t that bad for us after all! We need it, we just don’t need it in the same way we need water.

Where to Cut Back

The trick to not letting fats make us fat is by cutting back on the saturated kind. Unsaturated fats are filled with heart healthy Omega-3s. A simple solution would be to avoid processed meats, pizza and fast food, as well as processed snacks.

However, knowing what to eat might be a bigger help. Besides, hearing the things you can eat when dieting, or making a lifestyle change, is a lot more satisfying that hearing the list of the things you should avoid.

Eat Up!

There are more delicious things than I originally thought that have a ton of healthy fats just beneath the surface. If you’ve gone veggie, skip the first four on this list.

  • Grass fed beef
  • Wild salmon
  • Tuna
  • Duck
  • Avocado
  • Walnuts
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Flax and Chia seeds
  • Spirulina

 

The list might not be long, but it’s hard to deny how delicious some of these are. Plus, they can be easily added into any diet without having to sacrifice a hearty meal.

Do you know of any other foods packed full of healthy fats that I could add to this list? What ways do you incorporate healthy fats into your diet?

The Nutrition Behind Eating Garden to Table

Canned fruits and veggies are out! Farm to table is in. Growing your own garden is one of the most health conscious choices you can make.

Growing up, my family always bought their produce from the local grocery store. However, my grandmother did tend to a small garden in her backyard and I can remember how incredibly different her tomatoes were than the store bought variety. Not just how they looked, but how much better they tasted.

With GMOs, pesticides, and more plaguing our produce these days, I’ve taken the task of putting vegetables on my plate into my own hands. Aside from looking and tasting a whole lot better, there are a variety of benefits to reap from the Garden to Table , or Farm to Table, movement.

More Variety

I never realized it before, but every time I went to the store I bought the exact same vegetables. My garden has introduced me to a wide variety of veggies I had never tasted before, as well as new variations of some of my favorites.

Instead of buying nothing but beefsteak tomatoes, white onions, and portobello mushrooms, I can enjoy enjoy varieties like chanterelle mushrooms and roma tomatoes. Plus, I can plant all sorts of squashes, broccoli, and even beets in the Fall. It certainly spices up my meals.

More Nutritious

My garden has also introduced me to heirloom vegetables. The way mega corporations have grown vegetables over the years has lead to a decrease in their nutrient content. Heirlooms, on the other hand, have been passed down by private owners for generations, making them immune the flaws in modern day veggies and thus making them more nutritious.

Using different gardening methods like cover crops and integrated pest management to promote the health of my soil also give my plants a nutrient boost. It also feels good to eat healthy.

Ripe and Ready

Who hasn’t bought a vegetable from the store and had to wait until it was ripe, only to find that a few days later that it was brown. Commercial growers pick their crops early to give them a longer shelf life, which makes good sense for a supermarket, however, not always the most convenient at home. When you can pick your produce from your backyard, it’s available when you need it and nothing goes unused. Not to mention, nothing compares to picking fresh tomato or basil to use as an ingredient when cooking a meal.

 

Chemical Free

Research has shown the side effects GMOs and pesticides can have on our health. Since I know what I’m putting in the ground and how I care for it until the day I pick it, and the only shelf life I need to worry about is the time it takes to get a vegetable from my garden to my table, I know that what I’m eating is at its best and free from harmful pesticides.This makes a garden grown at home a save haven from the likes of carcinogens and toxins.

Choosing to grow my own produce has brought a variety of benefits to my dinner table and the health of my family. If you’re property doesn’t have the proper space for a garden, consider container gardens on your deck, indoor herbal gardens, or shop a local Farmer’s Market for fresh produce. What do you like the most about the Garden to Table/Farm to Table movement? Have you noticed any other benefits that I forgot to mention?

Making the Switch: Why Eating Organic Makes Sense

Grocery stores all over the country are swapping out their inventory for organic foods. Here’s why you should make the switch too.

The organic label has become incredibly popular over the last few years but navigating labels and health claims are still confusing to many consumers, myself included. What do all these labels mean, and is organic food actually better for our health and well-being? How are we supposed to know if the items we buy are actually GMO and pesticide free?

If, like me, you’ve ever wondered what the true benefits behind switching to organic foods are, then this article should help.

 

What Does the Organic Label Really Mean?

When you see that “Organic” label, it refers to the way an agricultural product was grown and processed. Here in the states, that means absolutely no synthetic pesticides, genetic modification, petroleum based fertilizer, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers. I’ll give you a moment to let that last one sink in.

When it comes to livestock, whether they are raised for consumption or for their eggs/milk, organic means they have access to the outdoors and have only eaten organic feed. It also means they haven’t been pumped full of antibiotics, growth hormones, and haven’t eaten other animal by-products. A lot of this food has been used as a natural home remedy, but if treated with a lot of chemics they certainly became more dangerous than healthy for you. Let’s focus on why do we really need organic food!

What Are the Benefits?

Aside from not eating vegetables that grew in sewer-sludge, an organic diet offers a lot of benefits to both our mental and physical health.

  • Fewer Pesticides: that means fewer toxins that lead to things like birth defects, weaker immune systems, and cancer.
  • Fresh Food: without preservatives, the food has to hit the shelf and your plate faster. Organic food is often made on local farms near the market. This also supports small business and the local community.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Local, organic farms reduce pollution, conserve water, and consume less energy than their mega-corporation counterparts. This is not only better for the land but also a healthier environment for surrounding animals and people.
  • Nutrient Rich: Studies show that organic foods provide our bodies with more nutrients than mass produced meats and vegetables do. A healthier diet means a healthier you!
  • Non-Chemical Animals: Eliminating antibiotics and growth hormones reduces the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains while keeping this hormone altering substances out of your diet. Not feeding cows animal byproducts also reduces the risk of mad cow disease.
  • GMO Free: Genetic modification alters the chemical makeup of plants, causing them to grow larger and become more pest resistant. However, studies on animals have shown them to damage internal organs, thicken the digestive tract, and slow brain growth. Pumping our bodies full of chemicals isn’t good any way you look at it.

Anti-cancer, anti-toxic chemicals, and beneficial for the environment?! It’s almost like this was the way food was meant to be grown! Now that you know the benefits of making the switch, are you more likely to buy organic produce?