It’s hard to “unlearn” a lot of the things we thought were true about nutrition. Many women (and men!) have it in their heads that “Fats are BAD”. While this is true for some fats (trans fats, overly processed vegetable oils…) other fats are good for us, our hormones and our fertility!
I remember reading a study when I was trying to conceive (“TTC”) that whole fat ice cream could help you get pregnant. The study, led by Dr. Jorge Chavarro from the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, stated that women who ate full fat dairy decreased their risk of anovulatory infertility (lack of ovulation during the menstrual cycle), while low fat dairy could increase that risk. More study is needed to understand the reasons but when TTC all I could think was “MMMM… ice cream! Bring it on!” (Organic, of course ;))
That being said, let me just add a disclaimer that some women, depending on their particular biochemistry, do not handle dairy well. So I do not recommend going out and eating a pint of your favorite ice cream flavor every day (Sorry, guys!). But I would like to add a list of fats that you may want to incorporate into your diet and explain their benefits. As with anything, moderation is key and if you want more details on how to incorporate these fats and other “super fertility foods” into your diet, I also incorporate nutrition coaching as part of all my coaching packages.
Here it is… my top 5 list of Fats, Glorious Fats!
- Grass Fed Butter (organic if possible and if you can tolerate dairy). Grass fed butter is rich in saturated fat, which despite how saturated fat has been demonized in the past is beneficial for hormone balance and fertility. It is also high in fat-soluble vitamins including A, D, K2 and E.
- Egg Yolks – Egg yolks are high in the nutrient For pregnant women choline is also important as it also helps to prevent against neural tube defects and helps with brain development.
- Coconut Oil – This oil is high in short and medium chain acids (MCAs) that the body can easily digest and are sent directly to the liver. Because of this, MCAs can actually help increase metabolism. In contrast, most of the fats we consume are long chain fatty acids which need to be broken down before they are absorbed. Most of the MCAs in Lauric Acid which converts to a substance called Monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin is an incredibly effective immune system booster.
- Fish that is high in healthy fat (and Omega 3 fatty acids) and low in Mercury: This includes wild salmon, mackerel and sardines. Besides offering super healthy Omega 3 oils for your brain, these fish also contain vitamins A, D, and B and the minerals selenium, zinc and iron.
- Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds contain a phytonutrient called “lignans”. Lignans are related to fiber, and provide us with antioxidant benefits. Flaxseeds are actually the food with the highest amount of this unique nutrient. They are also a good source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), a precursor of the omega-3 fatty acids we need. Other important nutrients that can be found in flaxseeds include: vitamin B1, copper and manganese.
Two important side notes about Flaxseeds:
- Flaxseeds are best consumed in their whole or ground form. This is usually very easy to add to smoothies or baked goods. Flaxseed oil on the other hand can go rancid quickly, and I feel that the ground seeds are better for our bodies.
- Flaxseeds contain Phytoestrogens (Plant estrogens). There have been so many studies on the way these affect the hormone balance of men and women (Soy also contains Phytoestrogens, but in a different form). In my own research I’ve come to the conclusion that those found in flax can be beneficial to hormone balance, as long as we remember the motto “moderation is key.” But, if you have specific medical issues, such as “estrogen dominance” it’s important for you to do your own research to make sure that flaxseeds are right for you. As I always say we are all different in what foods work for us, so this may be one that is amazing for one woman, but not work well someone else. Knowledge is power, so make sure to keep yourself safe by knowing what works best for you. I am happy to help you understand all of this if you need a guide for this often-confusing information.
So, please share….what are YOUR favorite healthy fats? Are you ready to incorporate more of these into your diet?