I have recently been reading in the news about how the world is finally coming to realise that fat is not the villain it has previously made out to be and> that we do need fat in our diet! Fat is a macro nutrient, along with Carbohydrates and> Protein so we need to be including it in our daily diet. Fat in food provides essential fatty acids, and> fat soluble vitamins including A, D and> E – it is also an important source of energy for exercise.
Previous dietary advice has always been to reduce fat intake and> focus more on a high carbohydrate diet, this may be due to the fact that fat contains more than twice the calories (9kcal) per gram than carbohydrates (4kcal). A high fat meal will therefore be higher in calories than a high carb meal but this shouldn’t be all we focus on. Very low fat diets can lead to deficiencies in essential fatty acids and> vitamins leading you to become susceptible to dull flaky skin and> other dermatological problems. Hormone imbalances and> issues with blood pressure may also occur. Despite scientific evidence into fats showing there is no link between fat and> heart disease, there have been no changes to dietary recommendations and> the general public still follow this advice and> believe fat is bad!
We need to start becoming a little bit more relaxed when it comes to fat in our diets, and> focus on the good fats our body needs. This isn’t necessarily saturated fat as we were previously led to believe, take coconut oil for example previously believed to be bad for us due to the high levels of saturated fat it it now being hailed as a wonder food! Why? Because of the way the fatty acids behave in the body. Read more about Coconut Oil on my previous post – https://ode2fitness.co.uk/coconut-oil/
So which fats are good for us, instead of boring you with just the science, hopefully these real life examples will aid you in your quest to enjoy fats again!
You always hear people mentioning how avocados are one of the good guys, and> yes they are – most of the fats in avocados are mono-unsaturated – the heart healthy kind. This type of fat is believed to have the greatest health benefits and> may help reduce cholesterol levels.
Once hailed as a devil food, it was recommended to reduce intake due to their impact on cholesterol levels – recent evidence suggests this may not be true. Yes eggs contain cholesterol but it would seem the impact on cholesterol levels in the body is actually minimal. Eggs are a great source of protein and> choline – an B vitamin that helps regulate the brain, nervous system and> cardiovascular system. One exception is diabetics, they may need to be careful when it comes to egg intake but for most of us eating eggs daily is not bad for you!
Nuts & Nut Butters
As with Avocados, nuts and> nut butters are high in mono-unsaturated fats – individually they have different nutritional benefits so good recommendations are almonds, walnuts and> pistachios. Almonds are high in calcium and> contain Vitamin E which is great for our skin. Walnuts may help reduce levels of LDL in the body (the bad form of cholesterol) and> are also high in omega 3. Pistachios are the lowest fat option when it comes to nuts and> contain lutein and> zeaxanthin, carotenoids important to eye health. Nut Butters are a great option for healthy fats, and> boost protein and> fiber intake. However be careful when selecting a butter as some contain high levels of sugar and> possibly salt.
Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel and> trout are full of omega 3 fatty acids, enhancing oxygen delivery to cells and> studies show that people with higher intakes of omega 3 have a lower risk of heart disease.
As mentioned earlier coconut oil is now seen to be one of the healthiest oils you can cook with – check out my post on coconut oil for more information – link above.
Hopefully this post has highlighted the importance of including fat in your diet. Try and> steer clear of foods labelled low fat as it is likely they have other ingredients added such as sugar to improve the taste, focus on including real foods into your diet and> the above fat sources.