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Eating Fat for a Healthy Heart

Sorry - did we just say eat fat for your heart? Yes, friends. Yes we did.

Not so long ago, we were told that low-fat was the way to go to reduce cholesterol and cardiovascular illness. But lo and behold, it seems as though we’ve been bamboozled!

This research was conducted by Ancel Keys, and turns out, the research that was presented actually didn’t really have much significance. In fact, at the time of this study, there was also research being done to indicate that sugar consumption had an impact on cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, Keys got to the finish line first, but with some questionable methods.

Let’s fast-forward to today, and many people have spoken out against this fat-free approach to heart health. Whether it’s the ketogenic diet, mediterranean diet, paleo, even the Atkins diet, many people recognize the importance of including fats in their diets every day.

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In fact, we now understand that fats are essential to keep your heart healthy!

Let’s take a look at how fats can affect our cholesterol level:

  • LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein): this is seen as “bad” cholesterol and can cause buildup of plaque in our blood stream. This is usually found in fried foods, and saturated vegetable oils.

  • HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein): this is seen as the “good” cholesterol and helps to balance our LDL levels

 

Here are a few HDL-rich foods to add to your diet:

  • Fresh-water, fatty fish (like fresh water salmon!)

  • Chia and flax seeds

  • Nuts

  • Olive oil

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*Note: when using olive oil, be sure to keep it in a dark, sealed container away from heat and light. Also, do not cook with it as it has a low smoke point.

Can eating a low-fat diet actually hurt my heart?

When we eat a diet lower in fats, we tend to add more carbohydrates to our diet to make us feel satiated, or quench cravings. As it turns out, sugar - especially the refined type found in white breads, pastas, chips, and nearly any dessert - is really at the heart (excuse the pun) of our heart problems.

Avoid anything that is labelled “low-fat” usually means there are added sugars. So choose full-fat when possible, and focused on non-processed meats and dairy options to ensure you’re getting the most natural fats possible.

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