It’s almost comical to think back on the time when the low-fat diet was the norm—back to a time when oils, butter, and even avocados were the enemy. Sad, too. Just consider all the half-eaten avocados that went bad. Now, any nutritionist will tell you to eat the whole avocado because not only is fat not the enemy, but it’s actually a must. “Fat is essential for producing hormones, absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, effectively balancing blood sugar, and hydrating skin from the inside out,” holistic nutritionist and health coach Kelly LeVeque says. As with just about everything, you certainly can overdo it, but if you’re incorporating the right fats into your diet, your body will thank you. And what are those “right fats,” those best-of-the-best sources, superfats, if you will? To answer that question, we called on the nutritional expertise of LeVeque and nutritionist Keri Glassman.
Scroll through for the six superfats you need in your diet!
Yes, nutritionists want you to eat butter. “Cows that graze on a diet of grass (which is what nature intended cows to eat) make milk and dairy products such as butter that have a higher concentration of nutrition,” Glassman says. “Grass-fed butter is loaded with vitamin K, which is critical to both bone and cardiovascular health. It also contains butyrate, or butyric acid, which helps to fight inflammation.” Bonus: It also offers skin benefits. “This healthy fat is also high in vitamin A, a natural skin clarifier, and D, your skin’s first line of defense against the sun’s harmful UV rays,” LeVeque says. But most importantly, this type of butter delivers on fats. “Full of omega-3 fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides, ghee or grass-fed butter is processed by the liver and used for energy that can keep you satiated through the next meal,” LeVeque says.
For a simple snack, Glassman recommends spreading grass-fed butter onto a piece of sprouted grain toast. LeVeque likes to use this fat to make Bulletproof coffee: “Incorporate ghee or grass-fed butter into your daily routine by adding a tablespoon to your morning coffee (plus a tablespoon of MCT oil) to stabilize blood sugar and burn fat as energy through lunch.” She also likes to cook eggs in this fat and serve them with a side of avocado.
Speaking of avocado, here’s one you probably saw coming. “Packed with unsaturated fatty acids as well as oleic acid (yes, called an acid, but actually a fat), avocado is linked to reducing inflammation. It helps fight heart disease, periodontal disease, arthritis, and psoriasis and also may help burn belly fat,” Glassman says. “When consumed, the healthy fat helps stabilize blood sugar, allowing your body to release fat, protect lean muscle, and increase your energy,” LeVeque says. That monounsaturated fat hydrates skin too. “Avocados are also a primary source of vitamin E, which stimulates collagen production and benefits skin elasticity.” Are you starting to see a connection here between superfats and healthy skin?
The real beauty of avocado is you can add it to virtually any meal. LeVeque uses it in her signature #BeWellSmoothie or to make avocado hummus. Glassman says you can never go wrong with guacamole and a crudité platter of fresh, seasonal veggies (asparagus and broccoli rabe are two of favorites).
“Coconut oil is full of saturated fats—but a good kind, called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs),” Glassman says. “MCTs are easy-to-digest fatty acids, most often found in coconut oil, that signal to the body that it’s time to burn fat for energy,” LeVeque says. “The lauric acid (potent antifungal) contained in coconut oil also helps to balance gut bacteria by killing off excess yeast and candida, which can contribute to breakouts.” It also boosts your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, the good kind of cholesterol that protects your heart.
And now for an oil you’re probably not using (yet): algae oil. It’s anti-inflammatory and contains the highest source of monounsaturated fat. We know what you’re thinking: Algae? “Yes, the simple non-flowering plant that includes the seaweed,” LeVeque explains. “One tablespoon alone has as much monounsaturated fat as an avocado. Coined MUFA [monounsaturated fatty acids], these fats are known for a decreased risk in breast cancer, lower cholesterol levels, weight loss, and a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke.” LeVeque says it has a super-light taste and is best used for high-heat cooking, like in stir-fries.
“They’re protective for your heart and brain, thanks to the omega-3s packed into these mild-tasting, smaller-than–sesame seeds little gems,” Glassman says. “Plus, they’re loaded with minerals and, like chia seeds, are abundant in fiber (12 grams in a tablespoon and a half). Sprinkle on anything from salads to smoothies to granola or even on your oatmeal.”
If it hasn’t already, let the egg debate end here. Eat the yolk. “One egg yolk contains 13 essential nutrients,” LeVeque says. “The yolk is rich in B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin E, selenium, and biotin, which promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails. Egg yolks are also loaded with choline, a vital micronutrient that helps the body absorb fat used to form DNA and cell structures in addition to improving cognitive function. A bonus: Choline has also been shown to increase dopamine levels. Yes, egg yolks can increase your happiness.”
How many of these superfats are you eating on a regular basis? Tell us your favorite ways to incorporate them into your diet below!