Please let me take this opportunity to explain to you why fats are important in our diet.
Fats simply put come in two forms saturated and unsaturated fats and both are needed in a healthy diet.
Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) include foods such as Avocado Oil, Fish Oils, Walnuts, Flax, Red Meats, Sunflower Oil, Soybean Oil and Canola Oil.
Saturated Fats include things like Coconut Oil, butter, peanut, margarine, whole milk, cheese, vegetable oil, fried foods, and frozen dinners. Health risks associated with saturated fats include Atherosclerosis and Heart Disease.
Whilst you need both types in your diet it is important to know that less than 10% of your daily total calorie intake should come from saturated fats. Unsaturated Fats should account for no more than 30% of daily intake.
Therefore, your daily recommended intake of good fats equates to between 25 – 35 percent of your total calories. Of that less than 10% should be made up of saturated fats. Example 2000 daily Calories of which 56/78grams is fat. 5/7 grams of which should be saturated fat proportion.
Omega 3 Fats are also very important and sit in the unsaturated fat food bracket.
Fats are higher in calories than proteins or carbohydrates at 4 calories per gram. Fats contain 9 calories per gram but essential to our body.
HYDROGENATED / TRANS FATS
Really IMPORTANT to stay away from hydrogenated fats or trans fats. Have no good properties and our bodies cannot digest due to their molecular make up and remain in our fat stores. Mainly found in processed foods.
Trans Fats are not a natural source of fat and has been manufactured through a hydrogenated process. An example of this type of fat is Vegetable Oil. This process usually extends the life of food and solidifies fats that would otherwise usually be liquid.
Trans Fats were initially introduced by manufacturers back in the 1970’s as fat was becoming unpopular and quick, microwaveable food was coming in fashion. Hydrogenated foods allow manufacturers to provide the consumer with foods that last a long time.
Saturated Fats – Solid at room temperature (Trans Fats & Saturated Fats)
Increases Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL or bad cholesterol) and Very Low-Density Lipoproteins (VLDLs).
Sources of bad cholesterol are those foods rich in trans fatty acids, refined carbohydrates such as white flour and white sugar.
Unsaturated Fats – Liquid at room temperature (Monounsaturated & Polyunsaturated Fats- Omega 3’s & 9’s)
Increase High Density Lipoproteins (HDL or good cholesterol) and decrease Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL or bad cholesterol).
Sources of good cholesterol include foods such as Onions, Omega 3 fatty acids such as Flax Oil, Fish, foods rich in fibre such as Whole Grains.
WHY DO WE NEED FAT?
1. A Major Source of Energy – We store fats in the body until we need to utilise for energy especially when we exercise. Example: – During exercise, your body generally will use carbohydrates that you have eaten. After around 20 – 30 minutes it will look to your fat stores to keep you going.
2. Absorption of Vitamins & Minerals – To keep your hair and skin healthy you absorb vitamins A, D, E & K so-called fat-soluble vitamins.
3. Structural Make Up of Cells – Required for insulation and to keep our bodies warm.
4. The fats your body gets from food give your body essential fatty acids called linoleic and linolenic acid. They are essential as our bodies do not make ourselves and cannot function without them. Used for brain development, controlling inflammation and blood clotting.
5. Omega 3 (unsaturated) Fats – Important for optimum nerve, brain, and heart function.
8 HEALTHY FATS THAT YOU SHOULD BE EATING
1. Walnuts are a super food and one of the few foods to give us alpha linolenic acid (ALA) a type of omega 3 fat which protects us against heart disease.
2. Almonds are particularly high in monounsaturated fat which helps reduce cholesterol levels. Not only healthy in fats but are also a good source of fibre and protein. 12 of these is about the right serving.
3. Flaxseeds are a plant based omega 3 fatty acid containing ALA which is linked to improving blood pressure so is extremely good for the heart.
4. A Good Natural Organic Peanut Butter – (free from trans fats or added sugar) is another great source of an unsaturated fat and high in protein. Add with some slices of apple for a great snack to help you stay full for longer.
5. Avocados – A monounsaturated fat extremely delicious with a creamy texture. Not only a good fat source but also fibre, potassium and vitamin C. Will also keep you full for longer.
6. Olives & Olive Oil – Another good source of a monounsaturated fat. Olives are also a source of plant sterols which are compounds that lower bad “LDL” Cholesterol. Can also be high in sodium so might need a little soak in water.
7. Coconut Oil – High in saturated fats and will increase the healthy cholesterol “HDL” in your body as well help convert the bad cholesterol “LDL” into good cholesterol. Increasing HDL in the body helps promote heart health and a lower risk of heart disease.
8. Fish – Salmon, Trout, Herring, Sardines and Mackerel (oily fish types) have lots of DHA & EPA which are two kinds of Omega 3 Fats that can reduce inflammation, lower risk of skin cancer and heart disease.
This information is a general overview surrounding fat which like all types of food is very complexed and can also vary dependent on the individual and their needs.
In general fats are important in our diet and there are a couple of things that you need to ensure that you think about every day.
Firstly, ensure that you keep an eye on your daily calorie intake especially if you lead a sedentary life.
Eat fewer carbohydrates as they convert to sugar and increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Less than 10% of your daily total calorie intake only should be sourced from saturated fats. Please ensure that you are not replacing saturated fats with forms of carbohydrates or hydrogenated oils, as the effect on your health will be even worse.
Avoid Trans Fats at all costs.
Hopefully, I have helped you with regard to the differences between the various types of fats available together with their effects on your health. Now you have the ability of making the right food choices for yourself.
Please leave any comments below or let me know if you have any questions, I can help you with.