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Tracy F.
Stephanie B.

Weekly Healthy Living Series (Week 8) - Healthy Fats by Stephanie Baker of Credible Cravings

Tracy F. 6 years ago

About The Series:  Welcome back to our weekly healthy living series. Subscribe to our newsletter to be notified each week when the post is up.

This Week's Guest Expert:  We are excited to have Stephanie Baker of Credible Cravings to talk with us about healthy fats. 

About Stephanie: Stephanie believes that good health is seeded in the most intimate phase of life – the beginning.  In her recent role as a Senior Consultant within PwC’s personalized medicine practice, she developed new business models keyed towards driving the promise of personalized medicine into the clinic.  Through CredibleCravings, Stephanie hopes to inspire healthy nutritional choices and lifestyle changes that improve the health of our next generation, keeping people outside of the clinic; the name of the game is prevention.

Stephanie B.
Stephanie B. 6 years ago

Hi Tracy,

Thank you for inviting CredibleCravings to touch on the topic of healthy fats – an essential part of a balanced diet, especially during the perinatal period.  “Fat” may be the last word we want to hear when we are pregnant, but fats play a major role in our health and the healthy development of our little ones!

Determining which fats to eat, from which sources, and in which quantities can be straight up confusing in light of the abundance of information published on the topic.  To simplify the discussion, our team synthesized the buzz around the “F” word.  Through this post, we hope that you walk away with some practical guidance on how to incorporate healthy fats into your diet during the perinatal period and beyond.  You want to provide the best nutrition possible for yourself and your little one, and eating the right fats is an important piece of the puzzle.  Enjoy!

Why are fats important?  There is a trend in thinking that low-fat diets are healthy; however, good fats are an essential part of a healthy diet, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  Fats help support the development of your baby’s brain and other tissues such as the nervous system and eyes.  In fact, fat accounts for 50-60% of the brain’s dry weight!  Getting enough fat is crucial, especially during the third trimester when your baby’s brain is growing rapidly.  And, it is up to you to provide a healthy supply of fats to your growing bundle.       

What kinds of fat do you need during pregnancy and breastfeeding?  This can vary a bit from person to person, but in general, your percentage of total fat intake does not need to change during pregnancy or breastfeeding.  Ideally, you should consume 20 to 35% of your calories from fat.  Of these calories, up to 10% should be from saturated fats, 6 to 11% from polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and the rest from monounsaturated fats.  Trans fats, on the other hand, should be as close to zero as possible. 

Some fats are better for you than others.  PUFAs are especially important during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  There are two types of essential PUFAs: omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids (FAs).  Both are required by your body for a number of biological activities.  Your body is unable to make these essential FAs on its own, so you have to eat the right foods to get enough of them for both yourself and your growing baby.

How much omega-6 and omega-3 FAs should you eat?  The key is to focus more on the omega-6 to omega-3 FA ratio as opposed to the total amounts.  A healthy omega-6 to omega-3 ratio to strive for during pregnancy should be between 5:1 and 1:1.  A standard American diet often contains more omega-6 FA than we need, in part due to the inclusion of too many processed foods.  Typical American diets can result in omega-6 to omega-3 ratios upwards of 17:1.  There are two major omega-6 FAs: linoleic acid (LA) and arachidonic acid (AA).  While these FAs have numerous beneficial effects, eating significantly more omega-6 FAs compared to omega-3 FAs can cause inflammation in the body.  Inflammation in turn, has been associated with a number of adverse health effects, including preterm labor.  Additionally, a recent study has found that high omega-6 FA levels later in pregnancy may be a predictor of fat mass later in life.  You can improve your ratio by decreasing your omega-6 intake and increasing the intake of healthy omega-3 FAs.

Which omega-3 FAs are important during pregnancy? The most notable omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic aicd (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  EPA and DHA are longer chain omega-3 FAs that are known for their health benefits including reducing inflammation.  ALA is a shorter chain FA that does not provide as many health benefits compared to DHA and EPA.  During pregnancy, DHA becomes the most crucial omega-3 FA.  DHA is an essential component of all cell membranes and is known for its beneficial effects on baby’s brain and retina development.  About 33% of the fat in the brain is composed of DHA, so this nutrient is vital for all you moms and moms-to-be!    

Helping you incorporate healthy fats, one delicious bite at a time. Our goal at CredibleCravings is to provide a healthy, natural bar that promotes the health of both mom and baby.  In each CredibleCravings bar, you are getting 7-9 grams of fat from healthy sources of omega-3 FAs in sprouted chia and pumpkin seeds and omega-6 FAs and monounsaturated fats from olive oil and almond butter.  We include only organic whole foods, without any excess fillers or processed ingredients.  So whether you are thinking about becoming pregnant, or are already pregnant, don’t skimp on the fat.  Instead, choose the right fats!