Wednesday, August 12, 2009

For Fertility, Go On and Eat Those Healthy Fats

We absolutely need fat in our bodies, particularly when trying to conceive. Fat plays an important role in our endocrine function, which regulates the hormones involved in reproduction. Fat is also the place where estrogen is manufactured and stored. So this is no time to try to lose weight on a low-fat diet! Fats can also satiate and satisfy hunger.

You should know which fats to eat, however, because there are good ones and bad ones.

The worst fat and the one to eliminate for life is trans fat. Trans fats, also listed on packaging labels as “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil,” are not natural and our body does not need them. Manufactured to stabilize liquid oils and prolong shelf life, these fats have found their way into an overwhelming number of packaged foods, even ones labeled “natural” or “healthy.” You can also find it in margarine, Crisco and in deep fried foods at restaurants. Trans fats pose serious health concerns, so check labels and cut them out.

Saturated fats, found mostly in meat and dairy products (and in small amounts in vegetable oils), increase harmful LDL cholesterol and need to be avoided. When eating meat, go for lean cuts. If you purchase processed products (which I don’t recommend), such as sauces and salad dressings, check labels for saturated fat content—as well as additives and preservatives—and avoid or eliminate these. It’s interesting to note that we don’t need to eat saturated fats, as our bodies can produce it if we’re eating enough healthy fats.

The “good” fats are the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated ones, and they have numerous health benefits when eaten in moderation, such as reducing blood pressure, stabilizing blood sugar levels, easing inflammation and, as a result, boosting fertility.
Avocados, nuts and olive oil are great sources of healthy monounsaturated fats! Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fats that provide essential nutrients and have numerous health benefits. Your body cannot make them, so you need to get them from food. Excellent sources include flaxseeds, walnuts and seafood.

Vegetable oils are another source of "healthy" fats. Keep in mind that some oils, such as olive oil and canola oil, are great for cooking, while others work better for salads, such as flax seed oil (which should never be heated), extra-virgin olive oil and nut oils.

So, enjoy your fats (in moderation)! Just stick to the healthy kind.