Fat: is it really so bad?

Focus on organic fats and green vegetables for optimal health.

Focus on organic fats and green vegetables for optimal health.

Fat. It’s a dirty word, right? We’ve grown up in a time where fat is the devil and our shelves are overflowing with low-fat options, wrapped in packaging that screams of the health benefits of ditching the fat. Are we really doing the right thing to our bodies though by depriving them of fat?

The fats you should be focussing on are those that come from things like coconuts, avocados, oily fish and eggs. Vegetable fat (you might see this under names like canola oil, sunflower oil or just plain ol’ vegetable oil) and transfats (the kind you will find in highly processed junk food) should be avoided. The easiest way to make sure you are getting the right kind into you is to, yep, you guessed it: eat whole foods. The reason you want to avoid vegetable fat is because it quickly turns rancid in your body, making it toxic and dangerous. If you put a plate of margarine on the ground next to a plate of butter, ants will ignore the margarine because they don’t recognise it as food! Them ants, they be smart.

A quick note on transfats: these are the nastiest of the lot. They are basically unsaturated fats that us clever humans have turned into very dangerous fats by moving where the hydrogen atoms are located in the molecule. What. The. Eck. Talk about a dumb idea! Transfats wreak havoc on how your cells function.

Another important, but often overlooked, thing to consider is the oil’s smoke point. Every fat you come across is made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. The difference between oils is the way in which these elements are ordered. Each carbon atom bonds with another two carbon atoms. The atoms live in a fatty acid and, the more of them there are, the longer the chain will be; hence, we get long-chain and short-chain fatty acids. In regards to smoke points, the longer the fatty acid chain, the higher the smoke point will be.

Once an oil exceeds its smoke point, it becomes dangerous to consume because it starts releasing those nasty free radicals along with toxic fumes. Certainly not a recipe for fun times in the kitchen! Which oils have the highest smoke points? Coconut oil is top of the list and is followed by tallow oil and then butter. Olive oil is right on the borderline what is considered safe for cooking. This doesn’t mean you should toss your favourite extra virgin in the bin. It just means you should enjoy it cold. Mix it with some lemon juice, salt and pepper, and use it as a salad dressing.

Cook with these guys

  • Coconut
  • Ghee
  • Butter
  • Tallow

Eat these guys cold

  • Olive
  • Nut
  • Sesame

Avoiding weight gain actually becomes easier when you up your intake of good fats. Why? They keep you fuller for longer and they quickly satiate you, making it less likely that you’ll look for a quick sugary fix. Omega-6 is what is making us fat. This is the stuff that comes from seed oils and it promotes fat storage.

Finally, let’s look at hormones. These guys have a huge influence on our overall health and are responsible for so much more than helping us make babies. Their importance can’t be overstated. Fat is used to make hormones, so when we cut it out of our diet, our body has a freak-out and basically packs up shop on the hormone front. As you can imagine, this throws our system into chaos and can trigger a domino effect of issues. And, ain’t nobody got time for that!

Laura

The Whole Pantry: a quick review (and a chocolate nut butter cups recipe)

So, so, so very good.

So, so, so very good.

Confession time: I’m a little bit (OK, a lot) obsessed with Belle Gibson and her stunning app, The Whole Pantry, which is available on iTunes and Android.

I first discovered Belle a couple of months ago through the website of another of my favourite wellness girls: Melissa Ambrosini. I was immediately captivated by Belle’s message, and her spirit and determination. At only 12 years of age, Belle moved out of home because she wanted to experience more out of life. A few years ago, Belle was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, which was the catalyst for her realisation that she needed to focus 100% on her health, which meant discovering a whole new world of clean eating. It was also the trigger for the creation of her hugely successful The Whole Pantry app, which was launched in August of this year.

The Whole Pantry is the first of its kind. It is a collection of lifestyle, health and wellness advice, and enticing recipes. All of this goodness is accessed via an elegantly designed interface. The Guides section of the app reads like a who’s who of the health world, with contributions from David Wolfe, Nat Kringoudis and Lola Berry, to name just a few. The app truly is a one-stop-shop for all things health. If you haven’t already, I can’t recommend enough that you download the app.

OK, onto the recipe. Boy, oh boy, will these babies change everything you ever believed about the world chocolate. Not only are they melt-in-your-mouth good but, because they are loaded with nutrients, your body will thank you for eating them.

The Ingredients

(Makes eight serves)

  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 2.5 tbs. maple syrup
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • Optional: a tablespoon of maca, mesquite or lucuma powder for extra nutrients.
  • 1/4 cup of raw nut butter (I like peanut butter)

The Method

  1. Whisk the cacao and salt through the melted coconut oil and maple syrup so no clumps are present.
  2. Pour 1tsp. of chocolate mixture into mini muffin cases and pop them in freezer for five minutes (or until firm).
  3. Remove from freezer and spoon a dollop of nut butter into the centre of each chocolate.
  4. Top each chocolate with 1 tbs. of chocolate mixture and leave to set in fridge or freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Laura

Fertility Fridays: best fertility boosters

Leafy greens are great for fertility (and just generally everything).

Leafy greens are great for fertility (and just generally everything).

When it comes to keeping yourself fertile, there are a number of things you can do to ensure everything is in top shape in that area. By making a few tweaks to the things you put in your mouth, you can help support your reproductive system. Of course, there are many other factors that affect fertility but we shouldn’t discount the effect of the things we put in our gob.

Without further ado, here is my list of top fertility boosters:

Avocado

Along with being a fantastic source of protein and fat, this little baby is a nutrient power house and is high antioxidants, rich in fibre and just generally all kinds of amazing. And, get this guys, avocados take exactly nine months to ripen from the date of flowering. Remind you of something else that takes nine months to grow? If you’re still not convinced, cut an avocado in half and check out what it looks like (hint: a woman’s body encasing a womb). Yup. Avocados are amazing.

Leafy Greens

Leafy green plants like spinach, silver beet and kale are non-negotiable. These guys, along with the rest of their vegetable friends, contain an array of vital minerals and nutrients that can help to balance your hormones. As a bonus, the more veggies you jam into your diet, the less room there is for not-so-brilliant food, which may help you to lose weight.

Protein and Fat

Hormones are made of protein and fat, which means it is absolutely vital that you are getting enough of these two things in your diet. In my opinion, the push to switch to low-fat food has been one of the most devastating things to happen to our health. Our bodies need fat. If we aren’t getting enough fat, our body freaks out and shuts up shop on the fertility front because we don’t need to be uber fertile to survive whatever famine our body thinks we are experiencing.

Protein is equally important and we should be loading up half of our plates with the stuff (with the other half being veggies). Either go for high-quality, locally grown organic meat or, if you prefer plant-based protein, try something like chia seeds, hemp seeds or pea powder. I like the Vital Greens brand. You can add all three of these things to your smoothie or sprinkle them on your breakfast.

The two Ms (Maca and Mesquite)

I spoke about maca in last week’s Fertility Fridays but it does such amazing things that I thought it deserved a place in this list too. Maca (also known as Peruvian ginseng) helps to rebalance whatever hormonal issues you may be experiencing, it stabilises your mood and boosts libido. Hello, maca.

Mesquite is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods we know about. Its other claim to fame in the fertility arena is its ability to stabilise your insulin, which is important if, like me, you have a history of polycystic ovaries.

Organic, Organic, Organic

This one is pretty straight forward. If you want your reproductive organs to be running at their best, you should avoid the fungicides and pesticides that go hand-in-hand with non-organic produce. These days, you can access organic produce for comparable prices to conventional produce. Try your local farmers market or, if you prefer someone else to do the hard work of shopping, get it delivered. Companies like CERES Fair Food are great.

Of course, if you feel you need a bit of extra help to sort out a specific issue you may be having, I suggest you go to a natural fertility expert. It might also be worth asking your doctor to test your hormone levels so that you know what area you need to focus on. Despite what some doctors will have you believe, there are natural ways to balance your hormones. The power is yours.

Laura

Going coco-loco nuts for coconut oil

Two health nuts drinking coconuts at the beach.

Two health coconuts, wearing coconut oil as sunscreen, drinking coconut water at the beach. And, also, coconut.

Coconut oil is one of those things that has been given a bad rap in these fat-fearing times we live in. I think its reputation has been unnecessarily, and unrightfully, sullied. Coconut oil does so many wonderful things for our body that if it was a god, I would worship it. Or at least gaze at it in wonder and awe.

Here are just some of the amazing things about coconut oil:

  1. It has an SPF rating of between 4 and 6, which makes it a great substitute for chemical-laden sunscreens. It will also make you smell divine and who doesn’t want that!
  2. It has the highest smoke point of any oil, including olive oil, which means it won’t oxidise when heated. This makes it the best oil to cook with.
  3. It will change the way you see chips. Seriously. If you have ever used it to make sweet potato chips, you will know what I’m talking about. So good.
  4. Its ability to help you lose weight is two-fold: when we up our consumption of good fats, like coconut oil, we are more satisfied and less likely to reach for sugary food. From a scientific perspective, coconut oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids. These are easy for our body to process and help to speed up the metabolism.
  5. It is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, and it can help clear up candida overgrowth.
  6. It can help remove toxins from your body, if you use it when oil pulling.
  7. It is great for your skin! There are naturally occurring fats in coconut oil that get deep into your skin, moisturising and creating a protective barrier.
  8. It is even better for your hair! The fatty acids in coconut oil have a small molecular structure, allowing them to pass easily into the hair’s cell membrane to provide deep conditioning.
  9. Did I mention it tastes great?

A final note: you want to get the cold-pressed, organic variety. I like the one that Melrose make.

OK, I lied, this is the real final note: I got my information here.

Laura