I recently spoke with Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon about the importance of “good fats,” or the fats that make up a healthy diet. The nutrition-obsessed, cold pressed juice junkie answered all of my questions about the topic that’s taking over the lifestyle world.
Below, you’ll find a breakdown of what will most likely be the defining health trend of 2016. Get your pen and paper ready, girls. The inner glow expert is about to drop some serious knowledge about what we should be eating in the new year.
I learned from Amanda that good fats are unsaturated fats that help with all kinds of bodily functions. Unsaturated fats are the opposite of saturated fats, or the fatty foods that are bad for our bodies. Fats can become saturated with heat: “Heat changes the fatty acid chain and oxidizes them. Oxidation causes the fats to become dense. Dense fats can clog the blood, lymph and digestive system. That can be stressful on the liver and contribute to weight gain.”
Amanda emphasizes the importance of avoiding these saturated fats and focusing on the good essential fatty acids (or EFAs) instead. There are two types we should be incorporating into our diets—omega-3s and omega 6s. Each have their own set of benefits.
Amanda explained that omega-3s help with everything from your brain to your blood: “It is very important to eat plenty of omega-3 fatty acid foods; they are crucial to metabolism, brain function and mental health, developmental disorders, cardiovascular health, cancer, and inflammatory response.”
The main omega-3 fatty acid we should be aware of is alpha-linolenic acid (or ALA): “ALAs are found in green leafy vegetables, seaweeds and algae, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, strawberries and kiwis. These ALA omega-3s can be converted into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and dicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).”
DHA and EPA are other acids crutial to healthy bodily function, but are not produced by our bodies naturally. We have to obtain these acids through out diet: “DHA makes up brain fat, deters depression and help with memory. EPA is the inflammatory response fat.”
2. Omega 6s
Omega-6s are fatty acids that help promote growth and cell repair. They can be obtained through various foods: “Omega-6s are found in abundance in sesame oil and raw dairy products, as well as avocados, coconuts, olives, cashews, and pine nuts.”
Why do we need good fats?
“We need good fats for brain function, hormone production, metabolism, weight loss, energy, immune function and inflammatory response. Sixty percent of our brain is made up of fat. The fat we eat literally feeds our brain, neurological functioning, and mental clarity that create a healthy, happy and inspired in life. My body and brain couldn’t keep up with my life if I were a waifish low fatter. I have personally felt the effects of getting enough good fat into my diet and it has radically enhanced my energy, stabilized hormones and nourished my nervous system.”
Why are we suddenly so interested in the topic?
“My diet is 40-60% fat depending on my energy requirements for the day. This may sound shocking coming from someone who’s known for guzzling organic green juice, but I am a strong believer in the good fat. We all went through some of Snackwell’s consciousness in the 90’s after it became clear that carbing out on packaged foods and purging with aspartame wasn’t looking good, and then there was the next freakish fad, Atkins, which implored you to eat bacon, and only bacon. I like to call this recalibration we are all having is the ‘post fat-free’ moment. “
“I believe in a low glycemic, plant based diet featuring a lot of raw foods. I really emphasize the low glycemic part! I eliminated grains from my normal routine, and am very careful to read sugar content in any prepared whole foods I eat. I have done this with reverence for food as an art form and still deeply enjoy the occasional deserts or grain, and not for physical nourishment, but as part of a conscious act of pleasure.”
1. Avocado (checkout my spinach and avocado dip recipe here)
“This is a kitchen staple in my house. I can’t actually tell you my one favorite use because there are too many, but I can boil it down to 2: 1. In a nori sheet with sprouts and cultured vegetables wrapped up like a burrito or 2. Peeled and ¼ stored in my freezer for a thick green or cacao shake with stevia and almond milk.”
“I like to think of ghee as spiritual butter, and when made with Vedic integrity, it feeds our life force, calms the mind and nerves, and promotes the spiritual or psychic heat that is created through yoga. Ghee is wonderful cooking oil as it will withstand heat, but my favorite application is making a tulsi tea and adding a tsp. of ghee to my mug with a splash of rose water and a kiss of honey or stevia.”
3. Coconut Oil (this is one of my favorite ways to use coconut oil topically)
“Another great cooking oil as it can withstand the heat! I make a monthly batch of chocolate using coconut oil, raw cacao, reishi, cordyceps, stevia, and a touch of honey. This is my daily afternoon energy boost.”
4. Activated (soaked) nuts and seeds
“Hemp, almond, pumpkin, Brazil, flax, cashew, sesame, hazelnut, walnut, macadamia and chia nuts and seeds make up a good portion of my diet alongside the green veggies. Hands down milks are my favorite way to get them into the day. I can’t remember the last day that went by without the indulgence of a nut or seed milk. There’s the obvious smoothie and shake making, but I also use mine to make pancakes, add to creamy mashed sweet potatoes, chia pudding and macaroni and cheese.”
5. Olives and their cold pressed oil
“I am heavy handed with olive oil drizzled on vegetables, both raw and cooked. My favorite flavor profile is olive oil, lemon and salt. You can make anyone happy with that sauce and make any quick vegetable dish sing.”
What’s the biggest misconception about good fats?
“Don’t think you can have a standard American diet that’s high in sweets, carbs and animals and then dump a bunch of raw fat onto it and you’ll lose weight. It’s not a cure-all. But they are a perfect replacement to all those unhealthy processed foods and fats.”
There you have it. Add “eat more good fats” to your list of new year’s resolutions and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier 2016. For more on Amanda, check out her most recent feature in the Vogue!