Last time in our series “Eat Healthy” we looked at carbs and how eating too many can lead to glucose being converted to fat in our bodies. So what does this mean for eating fat? The Department of Health recommends that 30-35% of our daily calories come from fat and this equals c. 70g for women (https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/basics/fats.html). As we discovered with carbs there are different types and the same is true with fats, and it is the ratio of the different types of fat that is important.
- Include healthy fats: avocados, nuts, olive oil. Cook with healthy saturated fats: coconut oil and butter.
Do we need fat?
Yes. Fat is essential for the body to function properly. Fat provides energy. The brain is predominantly composed of fat. Fat provides a protective membrane for every cell in our body. Fat helps with the absorption of many fat-soluble minerals and vitamins. Fat adds taste and flavour to the diet. Low-fat products typically have added sugars to compensate for the loss of flavour. (http://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/skinny-fat-good-fats-bad-fats)
What are the different types of fat?
Saturated fats = typically solid fats
Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated: omega 3 and 6) = typically liquid fats
Trans fatty acids = processed /chemical fats
Saturated fats are typically solid fats such as butter, cheese, and visible fat on meat. These fats are also typically used in manufactured foods such as biscuits, cakes and ready meals. Diets high in saturated fats have been associated with raising cholesterol levels which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease . It’s easy to think of solid fats as the ones most likely to clog and block our arteries. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Fat.aspx
Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid fats such as olive oil and vegetable oils and include the category of polyunsaturated fats described below. Diets rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
It’s easy to think of liquid fats as the ones that lubricate and heave more helpful properties.
Polyunsaturated fats include two essential fatty acids called omega 3 and omega 6. Omega 3 has many beneficial anti-inflammatory properties and supports brain, skin, hair and nail health. Omega 3 is commonly found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring and in nuts and seeds. Omega 6 supports immune function where inflammation is beneficial (for example to help a wound heal).
Trans fatty acids
Trans-fatty acids are chemically manufactured fats found in manufactured and processed foods such as biscuits, cakes, crisps which the body is unable to process and eliminate effectively. The body sees it as a toxin and toxins are frequently stored in fat tissue and can impact on weight.
So what does it all mean?
So we need fat and fat gives us energy and provides flavour. It’s important to choose the rights fats which have more healthy properties such as the oily unsaturated fats and omega 3 fats found in oils, oily fish, avocado, nuts, and seeds and limit the clogging saturated fats found in solid fats and manufactured foods, ready meals, cakes and biscuits.