Many horrible trends came from the 80’s such as leg-warmers, fluorescent everything, those weird little plastic round discs you’d loop your shirt through (yes I owned all of these things)… But the worst trend of all was the war on fat, eventually leading to the low-fat craze.
Overnight, the public was suffering through dry salads, steamed veggies, and skinless chicken breast (a form of torture in some countries). Everyone was miserable sipping on their Slimfast shakes whilst dancing to Tiffany’s, “I think we’re alone now” and dreaming of the day when they could fit into their shiny leotards without shame.
What’s so great about this (sarcasm), is that the trend continued for DECADES. And many believe it caused more harm than good. This is because fat is necessary in our diet and has many benefits, such as providing energy, keeping you feeling full longer, allowing you to create cell membranes and hormones, providing you with insulation, and (the purpose of this article) to help you absorb specific vitamins.
- We need vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy, fight disease, boost our immune system, keep us alive, etc. Duh, right?
- However, some of the most important vitamins we consume require FAT to perform their basic functions. What the what???
Let me explains its to you’s…
Vitamins…a tale of water, fat, and the alphabet
Because your body requires vitamins to perform essential chemical reactions in your body and can’t create many of them on its own, you need a source to add these vitamins into your body, a.k.a. food or supplements (for those of you who love to pee your money down the drain).
But here’s where it gets confusing!
There are two types of vitamins:
Water Soluble Vitamins- All the B’s and C
- These dudes are water soluble, which means they dissolve in water
- They generally aren’t stored in your body (B12 is the wacky outlier that can be)
The good: Toxicity rarely occurs with these vitamins because your body will excrete any excess it doesn’t need. For you “savvy” supplement takers, this is why your urine can be florescent yellow after taking a multivitamin. You should wave to it as you flush the toilet saying, “Adios money!”
The bad: You need to replenish water soluble vitamins regularly since your body doesn’t store them (except wacky B12).
Fat Soluble Vitamins – A, E, K, and D
- These guys are FAT soluble
- They require a fat “Uber” to safely drive them to all your necessary places
- They can be stored in the body.
The good: You don’t need to constantly replenish the body with fat soluble vitamins since they are stored in places like your liver and fat cells. Woohoo!
The bad: You can totally “overdose” since your body stores them. You should not take large doses of fat soluble vitamin supplements unless recommended by your doctor and you’re being closely monitored!
Finally, the whole point of this article
Most of the veggies you’ve been eating raw, steamed, and with nonfat salad dressing like a wascally wabbit are the HIGHEST in the fat soluble vitamins. For example, most leafy greens (romaine, green/red leaf, arugula, spinach, collard greens, kale), broccoli, sweet potatoes, cabbages, squashes (zucchini, yellow, acorn) are all extremely high in Vitamins A and K, and sometimes E and D. All…fat…soluble.
Which means, when you’re eating those veggies sans-fat, consistently eating a low-fat diet, and/or are taking drugs/supplements that inhibit the body from absorbing fat (I’m looking at you Alli and Orlistat!), you are messing with your body’s ability to absorb important vitamins. So cut it out already!
Analogy fun time!
Think of a slip n’ slide where your body is a fat soluble vitamin and the water on the slip n’ slide is actually fat. If there’s no fat on the slip n’ slide, you’re not going to slide very far and end up looking like an idiot. You might move a little but you’ll most likely tear off some skin on the dry rubbery surface. Party…ruined.
So what does this all mean?
No it does not mean you can eat a donut with your salad and tell people “Lana told me I’m doing my body good!” And no, your body doesn’t use your fat reserves to facilitate in the absorption of vitamins. The breakdown and absorption of vitamins occurs during the process of digestion, and, contrary to what some of us might wish, we cannot digest our fat cells.
So, if you really want to amp up your vitamin intake, pair healthy fat with every serving of veggies. Not only will your body absorb the vitamins more efficiently, but you’ll feel full for longer periods of time!
Ever eat the largest salad in the world only to feel hungry an hour later? This is because you didn’t have enough fat (or possibly protein) my friends…
Some examples of healthy fat additions:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Nuts or nut butters such as almonds, pecans, or cashews (No, peanuts are NOT a nut! They’re a bean a.k.a. a leguuuuume)
- Seeds such as sunflower, flax, pumpkin, or hemp
- Dairy (yeah there’s debate about non/low/full fat and which is better. If you’re scare of full fat, at least choose a lowfat option to get something in there…)
- Meats and oily fishies
- 1 oz cheese or a serving of dairy. Not considered as “healthy” as the other choices, but so were eggs up until recently. However, dairy is a great source of calcium and protein, so if you’re scared, eat in moderation.
- Greek yogurt (Thanks Mandy and Elle!): I would argue that you should use the whole fat version, but for those of you still skerred of fat, at least get the low-fat version as opposed to the non-fat version. Also stay away from added sugars and flavorings. Note: There are goat milk yogurt options available that are extremely tasty!
Examples of healthy combos:
- Instead of eating a salad with a disgusting low-fat dressing or a squirt of vinegar, drizzle that sucker with some delicious olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice (You can also use greek yogurt as a replacement for creamy salad dressings). Or, add a handful (that usually equates to an ounce) of tasty hemp, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds. Orrr, crumble in an ounce of goat cheese/feta.
- Sauté your veggies lightly in some ghee or olive oil, then drizzle with some unheated olive oil to finish. Or, sprinkle some ground flax seed or any of the other seeds on top. Orrr… if you’re still hell-bent on steaming, make sure you drizzle with some olive oil or other healthy fat after steaming.
- Snack on raw veggies dipped in almond butter, hummus, or a yogurt dip! Or eat in combo with a handful of nuts.
- Add a TB of almond butter, 1/4 cup of coconut milk, or a 1/4 avocado to your smoothies.
- Replace sour cream/mayo usage with greek yogurt. Slap that stuff in a baked potato with some chives or drop a dollop into tasty tacos! Use in place of mayo in a chicken salad. Or, create a quick and healthy yogurt veggie dip by stirring in some minced onion, garlic, a pinch of salt, dried parsley, chives (or any other seasonings you’d like) and poof! Healthy dip + a dose of probiotics! Wheeee!
- Eat a stick of butter whilst watching The Housewives of Orange County. I KID!!!
So if you want to get the biggest healthy bang for your buck, actually enjoy your food instead of suffering through it, AND stay fuller for longer, pour some fat on it!