Flat Tummy Fats

Flat tummy fats

While the scientific battle rages over animal saturated fats, we should be soaking up the benefits of whole food fats in moderation. All sources of fats and oils that exist in nature are a mix of fatty acids, some of which the body can make and others that are essential, meaning they must come from the diet.

Omega 3s are the true stars of the polyunsaturated fats, the PUFAs. They’ve been the most intensively studied for their health effects and found to benefit everything from helping to stabilise heart rhythm to reducing platelet ‘stickiness’ in the blood, to lifting mood and supporting brain health.

The monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), in nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil and avocados provide antioxidants that may help protect cells and other compounds in the body, such as cholesterol, from excessive oxygen damage.

The saturated fat in tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil and cacao butter is another special case. These oils contain some medium chain saturated fatty acids, which behave differently in the body than the marbled fat on a sirloin steak.

Coconut products have become quite trendy. Sometimes these ‘flavour of the month’ foods don’t fare so well over time. But based on everything we know now, they’re delicious choices to include in reasonable amounts


In the plant world, walnuts have a good supply of ALA/Omega 3s, but otherwise, it’s the small, edible seeds where you find it: chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, hemp and pumpkin seeds. They’re a storehouse of nutrients, ready to supply a new plant that takes root.

They’re even more nutrient-dense than nuts, rich in the good stuff: protein, minerals and essential fats. Seeds are enjoying a well-deserved boom right now, especially chia seeds. Aztec warriors used to eat them to keep up their energy on long marches.

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Nuts are more than the sum of their MUFAs and PUFAs. (I hope you enjoyed saying that sentence to yourself.) Nuts like almonds, pecans and walnuts are packed with minerals and the antioxidant vitamin E.

The skin of these nuts is rich in flavonoid phytochemicals that support the immune system. The whole package tests out as a major health boon. In the famous Nurses’ Health Study, which tracked over one hundred thousand women for decades, replacing carbs in the diet with the same amount of calories from nuts lowered the risk of heart disease by about a third.

And numerous studies have found that eating nuts regularly is a reliable predictor of a long life span! When it comes to gut health, the fibre in nuts is a major plus, both the type that enhances regularity (insoluble) and the type that prebiotically feeds our friends in the gut microbiota (soluble).

With all that going for nuts, you might think you could eat as much as you like without regard to calories. Over the years, that’s certainly what a lot of my clients thought. When we would put our heads together to figure out why they weren’t making the weightloss progress we had expected, the problem often turned out to be the nuts.

Dietary fat, any kind of fat, contains over twice as many calories per gram as carbs or protein.


They’ve got the usual fine line up of the best nut nutrients – magnesium, vitamin E, a collection of anti-inflammatory and possibly cancer-fighting flavonoid phytochemicals. And they’ve got more than the usual amount of fibre, three grams per 25 grams, which makes them excellent prebiotic candidates for the gut.

Get stuck in to these handy portable snacks – a study in 2014 found that eating about 55 grams of almonds a day for six weeks significantly increased the populations of our two most reliable friends in the microbiome, the bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.


A luscious fruit that because of its low sugar and creamy texture is usually considered a vegetable, avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fat, vitamin E and potassium – more than you’ll find in a banana.

They do contain a fair number of calories, about 300 for a nubbly Hass avocado, but I’m not so concerned about people inadvertently eating too much. They’re not nearly so portable as nuts! And although you might not associate the rich-tasting, creamy avocado with fibre, it’s loaded, about 13 grams, mostly the soluble kind that forms a gel in the gut.

In a 2013 study out of Loma Linda University, adding half an avocado to the lunches of the overweight volunteer subjects significantly increased their feelings of fullness, or satiety, after the meal, suggesting they would be less prone to between meals snacking.

Good fat rules

  • Eat whole ‘fat’ foods: avocado, coconut, olives, nuts, seeds, nut and seed butters.
  • Choose cold expeller-pressed oils and use the one that best fits your cooking needs. Store oils in a cool, dark place.
  • Moderate your saturated fats and choose the highest-quality meat and dairy products (butter, cheese, ghee, kefir, yogurt, etc.). The way livestock is raised affects its nutrition and overall healthiness!
  • Avoid mass-produced vegetable oils and trans fats such as soy, corn, cottonseed, partially hydrogenated oils and products containing these ingredients.
  • Avoid high-temperature cooking especially with certain fats and oils; for instance, extra-virgin olive oil.

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