The world of fats is often a misunderstood and misrepresented one. Will eating fat make you fat? What constitutes a healthy fat? Should you cut out fats all together? We’ve consulted fat-expert Julie Daniluk, author of Meals that Heal Inflammation, to help clear the air.
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Whether you’re struggling with the concept of healthy fats, want to know how to incorporate some fats into your diet, or just need some clarification on what you should be eating and avoiding, we’ve got the answers for you in this exclusive interview!
Q: First off, Julie, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview for us. It’s such a great topic and one that people will find so interesting. We’re going to start off pretty basic. Does eating fat make you fat?
Julie: Absolutely not. In fact, eating the right fats can help you stay slim. Good fats will make you thin. It’s eating the wrong fats that will contribute to inflammation, which in turn can cause you to gain weight.
Q: What would be some examples of good fats that will make people slim?
Julie: A great source of good fats include healthy seeds, like chia, hemp seeds, sacha inchi, and the ever-popular flax. There’s actually wild camelina seeds now grown in the Prairies that’s made into Three Farmer’s Camelina Oil, and that’s really awesome. Other great sources include avocados and avocado oil, olive oil, which is so healthy and wonderful for us, along with coconut oil, and red palm oil. Moving into the animal fats that we know are very helpful, there’s squid oil and small fish like anchovies, mackerel and sardines that are really the healthiest choices for fish oil. Fish oil is so great because it’s pre-converted into its anti-inflammatory form, called EPA and DHA, which is more effective at reducing fat and inflammation in the body than plant sources. I really do appreciate fish oil as one of my top picks.
Q: Do you have a favourite fish oil you would recommend to our customers?
Julie: My personal favourite is Ascenta NutraSea because of their quality and sustainability. They have a passion for the environment and they only use sustainable seafood sources. I really appreciate that they process their oil in such a way that ensures it’s free of the toxins people are worried about with fish. They really meet their label claim, especially with their Purecheck program. They make sure that the EPA and DHA in the bottle is meeting or beyond the label claim, which is very unique.
Q: Now that we know some great sources of healthy fats, exactly how much fat should people be eating?
Julie: That’s a really interesting question, and it really depends on caloric needs. Up to 30% of your calories could be fat, but we need to keep in mind that there are more calories in fat – it’s really dense. So, it shouldn’t necessarily be a third of every plate, but you can handle a caloric balance of 30% of your diet being comprised of fats. This might sound scary to people, but I really see when they focus on healthy fats, their brain works better, their inflammation drops, and their blood sugar stays more balanced.
Q: What are some easy ways you can recommend for people to incorporate healthy fats into their diet?
Julie: I find that making the fats in your diet more food based is the easiest way to bring it back to the whole health and nutrition. One of the biggest ways, for me, is salad dressings. Instead of buying commercially-made salad dressings, where you’re paying so much money for poor ingredients, spend the same amount of money on the good oil itself and cut it with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice so you’re able to make a delicious dressing really easily. Hemp seed oil tastes delicious, too, as well as coconut oil. You can put coconut oil in a smoothie or melt coconut oil or butter ghee over the veggies on your plate. It’s literally a substitute for your butter. I also prepare soups by steaming veggies on the stove, transferring them to my blender, adding coconut milk and lemon juice, and pureeing it until it’s smooth. Then, at the end, I fold in some essential fatty acids to make sure I’m not oxidizing my oil or overheating it in the earlier processes.
Q: Those are some great tips and ideas. Once people start to eat more good fats, what benefits can they expect to experience?
Julie: What I find with my clients is that their immune system will get much better, and they’ll have fewer colds and flus. A real shift in mood can also happen within 1-2 weeks, and people start to feel they can cope with more. Your brain is so fatty that once you put good fats in, you start to impact your mental outlook. This can cause you to have a better attention span or make you better able to focus on a task with more attention. From personal experience, my grandmother was suffering with dementia and we gave her a tablespoon of Ascenta NutraSea a day and I cannot believe how smart she is again and how much she can remember. Another benefit would be the clearing of skin conditions. A lot of clients rave about how their eczema disappears and acne gets eliminated. Another big thing is joint pain. If you get your EPA high enough, you can find amazing relief for joint and arthritis pain.
Q: Now that we know a bit about healthy fats, what about unhealthy fats? What fats should people be avoiding?
Julie: The really big genetically modified fats – canola oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, soy oil. Most of these, in their conventional form, are genetically modified and absolutely horrendous for the environment and human beings. Beyond the big evil four, we move into a whole host of veggie oils that are a blend of everything and people are unaware of what can be in them. Also watch out for the words “fractionated” or “hydrogenated”, because these are just fancy words for damaged fats.
Q: What about the omega 3-6-9 issue? Which are the most important?
Julie: We have too much omega-6, overall. Generally, we have 25 parts omega-6 to 1 part omega-3. The World Health Organization recommends a ratio of 4:1 omega-6 to omega-3. People with inflammation can go even higher than that, as high as 2:1. This can really help switch off the omega-6’s converting into inflammation. Cut down on the refined-oil-sources of omega-6’s and embrace healthy nuts to provide the omega-6’s you need. We don’t have an omega-6 deficiency in the world; we have an omega-3 deficiency, and this is what we should be focusing on more.
You can find healthy omega-3’s and -9s in vegetarian sources like small seeds, avocados, olives, and coconut oil. Use these instead of omega-6 rich refined oils to get your fats. As far as omega-9’s go, I really want people to look for high, high quality olive oil. There’s a terrible issue going on in Italy and Greece right now. They’re running out of olive oil, so they’ve started taking sunflower oil, safflower oil, and canola oil, colouring it with chlorophyll, and adding a touch of olive oil for flavour and calling it “light olive oil”. There’s no way this can be true olive oil! So at Goodness Me!, for example, when you look at Acropolis Organics Olive Oil, sure it might be a bit more expensive but that’s a fair wage to be paying a farmer in Greece. It’s really important to be able to go back to the source like that. That’s what’s beautiful about organic – there’s a paper trail from field to table. Absolutely worth every penny. A real life-saver, long term.
Q: What inspired you to write Meals that Heal Inflammation?
Julie: Meals That Heal Inflammation came out of my own healing crisis. I came into contact with a bad bacteria while travelling abroad and got diagnosed with colitis, which nearly killed me. I had all the terrible standard colitis symptoms and a total inability to break food down. My husband gave me a lot of strength and said, “What are you going to do to turn this around?”. So, I took a two-sided anti-inflammatory recommendation sheet (one side is what to eat and the other side is what not to eat), and from that, I created a 4 page chart for my business. It then grew to 16 pages, then to more, then to a whole book. It took 5 years of revisions and recipe rehab to get the book where it is. I’m so grateful that it’s been incredibly well received. It shows that the silver lining to the suffering is that you have this passion that comes from that. My heart goes out to people who are suffering with gut problems or arthritis or anything else, because I remember how life used to be so challenging. But as you get your vitality back, you can be amazed at what you can take on. My favourite saying is: “Where there’s health, there’s hope, and where there’s hope, there’s everything”. If you have your health, everything works.
Q: Who would benefit from reading Meals that Heal Inflammation?
Julie: When I think about that question, I think about these statistics… 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women have heart disease. 1 in 5 people have arthritis. 1 in 5 people have irritable bowel syndrome. 1 in 3 may develop cancer. Any person over 30 is starting to have a chronic inflammatory state, and anyone under 30 should read this to ensure they don’t inherit the issues of their parents. It’s for every person on the planet. There’s not just one diet to suit everyone – figure out what works for you. What is going to work for you is individualized, and I’m helping you experiment – take this out, put that in, did you notice a difference when you took out the gluten? Then you eventually sort out what your authentic diet is.
Q: That’s great, Julie. Anything else to share before we wrap up?
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