Healthy fats are essential for nutrient absorption, proper cell division and regulating inflammation. They also have a big influence in preventing cancer.
In fact, research shows that its not the amount of fat that’s important, but rather the type of fat you eat that is important for your health. Let’s take a look at the three healthy fats that can help reduce your risk.
Cancer-Fighting Healthy Fat #1: Omega 3 Fats
In the United States, 80% of the fats we consume are omega 6 fats. And that’s a dangerous thing because omega-6 fats (found in vegetable oils like corn and soybean oil and conventionally-raised meats, such as grain-fed beef) promote inflammation and turn on genes that fuel the cancer process.
Omega-3s, on the other hand, supply the antidote. Not only do these healthy fats (found in cold-water fish like wild salmon, mackerel and sardines, plus flaxseed, walnuts and chia in much lesser amounts) provide potent anti-inflammatory action, they also regulate genes that guard against cancer.
Research has shown that:
- Higher intake of omega-3 fats from fish is associated with a 41% reduced risk of colorectal cancer, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Omega-3 fats have also been shown to reduce breast cancer.
- A study of more than 20,000 cancer-free men showed that those who consumed fish five times a week cut their risk of death from prostate cancer almost in half as compared to those who ate fish less than once a week.
- Another study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who got the most omega-3s reduced their risk of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma by 40% compared to those consuming the least.
Cancer-Fighting Healthy Fat #2: Monounsaturated Fats (MUFAs)
You’ve probably heard the buzz about the Mediterranean diet in recent years. It promises to balance blood sugar, trim the tummy, protect the heart and guard against cancer. And all by enjoying rich foods like olive oil, nuts and avocados.
One of the key components of the Mediterranean diet is its reliance on monounsaturated fats. These healthy fats guard against cancer by blocking expression of a cancer-promoting genes, stabilizing blood sugar and reducing cancer-promoting insulin.
Researchers agree that the healthy monounsaturated fats – from nutrient-dense avocados, and avocado oil, nuts (especially macadamias and macadamia nut oil) and olive oil – were the primary fat source in the diets of our disease-free ancestors.
At Healing Gourmet, we rely on these healthy fats in our recipes for flavor, enhanced nutrient absorption and cellular protection.
Cancer-Fighting Healthy Fat #3: Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
CLA is a healthy fat found in the milk and meat of grass-grazing ruminants. In is recognized for helping to reduce belly fat and slashing the risk of cancer. But please note that we only recommend this healthy fat in its whole, food-based form! CLA has become a popular supplement for weight loss in recent years. Unfortunately, this synthetic version has also been linked to insulin resistance, increased blood sugar levels, reduced levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol and enlarged liver. Avoid CLA supplements!
CLA isn’t a “new” fat, but it has all but disappeared from the food supply due to the practice of feeding grains to livestock. In fact, cows grazing on grass have three to five times more CLA than those fed grain.
Studies have shown that CLA blocks all three stages of cancer: Initiation, promotion and metastasis. Most anti-cancer agents have an effect on only one of these three stages. It is also effective against a wide range of tumors, including cancers of the skin, breast, prostate and colon. This was known as far back as 1994 and published in the journal, Cancer. A Finnish study, published in Nutrition and Cancer, showed that women who had the highest CLA in their diets from grass-fed meats and dairy had a 60% lower risk of breast cancer.
This finding was confirmed by a study of 360 French women. In this case, the researchers discovered that CLA consumption was also correlated with a reduced risk of cancer. Those women who consumed the most CLA had a 74% lower risk of breast cancer, compared to the women who consumed the least.
However, it is important to understand that all red meat is not created equal (learn more about grass-fed beef versus conventional).
Unfortunately, factory-farmed, grain-fed meat accounts for 90% of all meat consumed. Consider the following feedlot facts:
- Factory-farmed red meat contains high levels of omega-6 fats and very little omega-3s
- Factory-farmed red meat lacks CLA
- Factory-farmed meat contains more calories and more saturated fat
- Factory-farmed meat contains less antioxidant vitamin A and E
- Factory-farmed meat contains growth hormones
- Factory-farmed meat is fed a diet of corn and grains treated with pesticides
In the words of author Michael Pollan:
“The unnaturally rich diet of corn that undermines a steer’s health fattens his flesh in a way that undermines the health of the humans who will eat it.”
Healing Gourmet only promotes minimally processed grass-fed meats. Not only will you get more CLA and antioxidant nutrients (including 400% more vitamin A and E), but less inflammation-promoting omega-6, fewer calories per serving and NO cancer-promoting growth hormones.
Are You Getting Enough Healthy Fats in Your Diet?
To summarize, it is important to understand that it is not necessarily the amount of fat you consume that determines your health. It is the types of fat in your diet that are most closely tied to your risk of disease. Most people today eat a variety of processed and packaged foods, factory-farmed meat and dairy, conventional eggs and pen-raised fish. These foods are notoriously high in unhealthy fats and very low in the healing fats your body needs to reduce inflammation and prevent cancer. We encourage you to learn more about healthy fats and choose to consume more of these powerful macronutrients.
What are some of your favorite healthy fat-rich foods? And how to you include them in your diet?