Nutrition

Understanding Fats

Fats used to be the devil but recently they have been getting a bit of an easy ride since everyone decided to attack carbohydrates and sugar instead.

In this blog I am going to show you the good, the bad, and the ugly of fats.

Lets start off with a little bit of information about the topic.

Fat is a rich source of energy with 1 gram providing your body with 9 calories. With 1 gram of either carbohydrate or protein at 4 calories,

Fat has a reputation of being bad for you. Fats are essential parts of your bodies ability to function properly. They are made up of building blocks called fatty acids that are classified as unsaturated (the good), and saturated (the bad), and trans (the ugly).

Some of these are essential components as they provide your body with essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins whilst others can be detrimental to our health.

Unsaturated fats are considered beneficial fats as they provide our body with essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins. They can improve blood cholesterol levels, ease inflammation, lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases, along with other benefits to our bodies.

There are two types of unsaturated fats that you should be consuming in your diets; These are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Monounsaturated fats are found in Olive Oil, Avocados, various Nuts such as Almonds and Pecans, and Seeds such as Pumpkin or Sesame Seeds.

These can help decrease the risk of many types of cancer, lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol, and have also been shown to help control your weight and even reduce your body fat percentage.

If you thought Fats were bad then already you should be amazed with how fats help us in a variety of ways.

Polyunsaturated fats are found in high concentrations in Sunflower Oil, Walnuts, Flax Seeds, and Fish.

These fats contain omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids which are referred to as essential fatty acids. These can not be produced by our own bodies so it is important to ensure these have a place in your diet.

Polyunsaturated fats are the king of cognitive functions by helping you with your memory, and protecting you from dementia and cognitive decline. They also help improve your overall brain health which once again can only be a good thing.

Saturated fats are quite confusing for most people. Over the years they have been classed as the bad fat stating that too much of this type of fat would cause heart disease as well as cancer.

Found in many meat and dairy products such as red meats, poultry, milk, and cheese it has a great purpose for our bodies. It can also be found in some vegetable products such as coconut oil and palm oil.

They provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormone and hormone like substances.

Our bodies also benefit from this type of fats as they play a vital role in the health of your bones, protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins, enhance the immune system, and are also needed for the proper utilisation of the essential fatty acids we consume through polyunsaturated fats.

The way you should look at saturated fat is if it is a piece of meat, some milk, or some feta cheese then eat it. If it is processed meat, processed cheese, or your are adding lots of butter to your foods then try and avoid it.

Unless you become a vegan there is no way of avoiding saturated fats and they do have benefits for the body.

Finally we move on to the only fat you should stay clear from. This fat is Trans fats.

Foods with hydrogenated oils became a popular ingredient for the food industry as they help prolong shelf life while also improving taste.

Research has shown a link between trans fats and heart disease which led to several countries banning the use of artificial trans fats in food products. In 2012 most supermarkets and fast food chains agreed to not use artificial trans fats however it is unclear how many products still contain this type of fats.

This fat was used in fried foods, biscuits, cakes, and pastries. The easiest way of making sure you do not consume this type of fat is to eliminate these types of foods from you diet.

In conclusion, all fats contain the same 9 calories per gram so from a weight management side you need to make sure that you control your servings of these foods.

You should make sure that monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated foods are consumed in the diet as they all bring something different to the table.

When it comes to saturated fats it is all about consuming whole foods rather than processed foods. The only fat you should stay clear from is trans fats as these can be damaging for you health.

Read our article on Good Sources Of Healthy Fats here

 

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