For those of you that have been following me for a while now you will know that one of the biggest changes I made to help heal my PCOS and increase fertility was eating more good fats.
I’m not going to lie, switching over to a high-fat diet was a bit of a mind game for me.
It felt like every fibre in my body was telling me to avoid fat like the plague, and yet all the research I had done said otherwise.
You see I (like most of you!) grew up during the ‘fat-free’ era, where everyone was terrified of eating fat because marketing told us we would gain weight, get heart disease and have high cholesterol.
So instead of eating good fats, we ditched fat altogether and scoured the supermarket shelves for ‘fat-free,’ ‘diet,’ and ‘low fat’ options thinking that was the healthier option...
Gahhhh If only I knew then what I know now!
The truth is that fat is a biological necessity, and your body can’t live without it.
What’s even crazier is how much fat affects your hormones; without fat, our bodies simply can’t produce hormones or perform most other body functions for that matter!
To keep it simple, I have put together some examples of why we need adequate fat in our diet:
Hormone production: Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone all require fat (cholesterol) to be produced, without fat, we can’t produce hormones, end of story.
Vitamin absorption: Fat is required by the body to digest, absorb, and transport vitamins A, D, E, and K because of their fat-soluble nature, without fat we can’t effectively absorb these nutrients.
Weight loss and improving metabolism: Contrary to what you might think, healthy fats actually help you lose excess body fat by improving metabolism, balancing hormones, and eliminating constant cravings.
Improve brain function: Did you know your brain is mainly made of cholesterol and fat!? Without good fats, our brain can’t function properly.
Cell Membrane Fluidity: Our body seeks homeostasis all the time, and that includes fatty acid balance. Consuming healthy fats helps your cells function, which is vital for all bodily functions to occur.
Mental health: Adequate healthy fat intake also helps prevent depression and anxiety by maintaining serotonin levels, a hormone responsible for making you feel good.
But not all fats are equal!
Trans fats have been scientifically linked to many health concerns, so if you are increasing your fats its best to stick to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
And as a bit of a guide, trans fats are predominantly found in meat and processed food while monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are usually derived from natural plant-based sources. This is another reason why I prefer to stick to a plant-based diet and avoid animal products where possible.
Limiting animal products can make it tricky to know where to get your good sources of healthy fats, so I thought I would do the hard work for you and compile a list of my fave plant-based fat sources.
It should come as no surprise that seeds are my number one favourite hormone-healing fat source!! I just can't get enough of these boys, especially when seed cycling!! (see my related post about Seed Cycling and balancing hormones).
Seeds are both high in fibre and fat and low in carbs (great for any of my keto gals!)
You can add them to salads, smoothies, protein balls, baked goods, stir-fries etc - or just eat them by the handful.
Some of my favourite seeds are:
FLAX - Contain lignans, which help to bind excess estrogen so that it can be eliminated from the body. They are also known to protect against hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer .
PUMPKIN - High in zinc, which supports progesterone.
SESAME: Contain lignans to block excess estrogen.
SUNFLOWER: High in selenium, which is good for hormone balance.
CHIA and HEMP seeds are also great options.
Nuts are my go to for easy snacks. In fact, I am eating some organic raw cashews right now!!
Not only are nuts a great source of vegan protein, but they are also packed with healthy monounsaturated fats (which help reduce the risk of heat disease).
My fave way to eat nuts is actually when they're made into a delicious nut butter that I can smear on everything, bake with or just eat straight out of the jar!
I love to eat:
- Brazil nuts
- Macadamias (in moderation)
Coconut oil was once considered bad due to its high fat levels, but scientists have recently discovered that coconut oil is a great source of medium chain triglycerides, which turn to fuel in the liver and forgo stomach storage (unlike butter).
These fatty acids improve brain and memory function, increase good cholesterol and promote heart health. The antioxidants found in coconut oil also make it an effective anti-inflammatory.
Yummm I love avocados! Avocados are packed with monounsaturated healthy fats! They are also packed with vitamin E, which helps fight free radical damage, boosts immunity, and acts as an anti-aging nutrient for your skin.
Plus, they are chock-full of healthy protein, and for pregnant women are also one of the best folate-rich foods.
But I am talking about the raw, dark kind, not sugary, milk-laden candy bars.
Dark chocolate is packed with anti-oxidants and monounsaturated fats which help protect our bodies from disease-causing free radicals. The flavanols found in dark chocolate also improve heart health, thanks to their ability to lower blood pressure and get more blood flowing to the heart and the brain.
So if you are looking to help balance your hormones, decrease your PCOS symptoms and optimise your bodily functions, don't be scared - make sure good fats are part of your diet.
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