[caption id="attachment_85" align="alignright" width="240"] Eat healthy fats to fight inflammation[/caption] Are fats bad for you, or good for you? Depending on which expert you read, you may be hearing that saturated fats are terrible for your heart and arteries, or that you need more saturated fats. Low fat diets have been promoted for a long time, but new science shows that certain healthy fats are essential for our health. Fats, like other foods you eat, communicate with your genes. They send information to your cells that can turn on or turn off cell receptors in different ways. It’s not a question of a low-fat diet versus a high fat diet, but a question of which fats are good for you. Why all the confusion? Different groups have different interests. Large food manufacturers make great profits from selling cheap, hydrogenated vegetable oils, and advertise these fats that are now considered dangerous to our health. Specific fats turn on your metabolism to help you lose weight, reduce inflammation, slow down aging, and ease pain. Here are the best fats to add to your diet: Omega-3 fatty acids Omega-3s are called the king of fats because the human race evolved while eating these fats, so our bodies are used to them. As recently as 10,000 years ago (a blip in evolutionary time), all the food our ancestors ate was wild. Their fats came from wild fish, grass fed animals, dairy, and wild game. Omega-3s are called essential, because they are critical for our health. Omega-3 fatty acids have a long list of health benefits. They prevent heart disease, protect the immune system, improve metabolism, aid weight loss, keep skin smooth and prevent wrinkles, improve mental health, help prevent cancer, and fight overall inflammation. The best sources come from cold-water fish and include wild salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and rainbow trout. These Omega-3s help prevent inflammation and joint pain. Avoid farmed fish because their Omega-3s are generally depleted. Also limit the amount of large predatory fish such as tuna and swordfish, which accumulate more mercury. You can get your Omega-3s from a supplement. You can also get some from plant sources, but your body doesn’t convert them as well as. For maximum benefit, get most of your Omega-3s from fresh fish. Saturated fats Saturated fats have been given a bad rap. When they come from the right sources, they can be a healthy part of your diet. Did you know that the human brain is made up of 60 percent fat, including a saturated fat called lauric acid? Our brain and nervous system are made of saturated fats, and getting these fats in our diet is important for brain function as we age. Saturated fats also help strengthen the immune system, protect us from infectious diseases, and are important for cell membranes. They help us use calcium to build bone strength, so we can avoid osteoporosis. Healthy sources of saturated fats include grass-fed beef or bison, and raw organic milk, cheese and butter from grass-fed cows. Coconut Oil One of the best anti-aging saturated fats comes from virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a saturated fat found in human breast milk, which boosts immune function. It is antimicrobial, so it helps the body kill viruses and yeast. Coconut products include raw coconut, coconut milk, and coconut oil. Palm fruit oil and macadamia nut oil have similar properties. Mediterranean Diet The Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil, which contains powerful plant antioxidants called phenols. Olive oil has been shown to reduce inflammation, boost immunity, protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, and have anti-aging properties. Look for extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil, and eat olives as well. You can get similar types of healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and avocado. Bad or Toxic Fats Ever wonder how a box of crackers can have an expiration date of years from now? Manufacturers love these products because they never spoil. Increased shelf life means increased profits. These relatively new, manufactured foods have fats that are toxic to your system. The fats were originally created from vegetable oils during a butter shortage. Once food manufacturers realized the high profit margins from cheap vegetable oils, they launched marketing campaigns to tout the benefits of margarine and shortening. Trans-fats are now in nearly all packaged foods, including crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked good, salads and other processed foods, sometimes with sneaky names like “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated.” Why are trans-fats so bad? They seem to block or disrupt our metabolism. The fats we eat speak directly to our DNA, turning on or off genes that regulate our metabolism. This can cause weight gain, which increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Get the right balance Your body needs fats to survive and thrive. That’s why we often crave fat. Natural fats make food taste delicious. They boost your mood because your brain thrives on the right fats. They increase your energy so you feel satisfied, and they can lead to weight loss because you’ll feel satisfied, so you eat less. Good fats reduce inflammation and joint pain, and improve your overall health. The problem is that most Americans have the wrong mix of fats: too many hydrogenated, toxic fats, and not enough of the healthy, essential fats we need. Give your body an “oil change” by choosing more of the healthy fats on this list, and eliminating or reducing as many of the unhealthy, toxic fats and oils as possible. Just be sure not to overload on oils, or you’ll gain weight. And substitute better oils and fats for the ones you use now.