A small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet as your body actually needs healthy fats for energy, to absorb vitamins, and to protect your heart and brain health.
Healthy fats play a role in hormone production, so they help you manage your moods, stay on top of your mental game & fight fatigue.
Adding healthy fats to your diet will help to make you feel fuller and more satisfied therefore reducing hunger and promoting weight loss/management.
As fats are the most calorie dense energy source (9 cals per gram compared to 4 cals per gram for protein & carbs) you need to be mindful of portion control (we don’t want to police our peanut butter consumption either but needs must!)
SOURCES OF HEALTHY FATS include:
- Whole eggs
- Wholegrains such as Oats
- Nuts & Unprocessed Nut Butters
- Oily fish such as salmon or mackerel
- Dark Chocolate (yessss)
The Department of Health advises we aim for fat to make up less than 35% of your daily food intake.
THE LOW DOWN
The ‘good’ healthy fats can be broken down in to two types:
Monounsaturated. This type of fat is found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids instead of saturated fats improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease and may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Sources: fatty fish, ground flax seed, liquid plant-based cooking oils (avocado, canola, olive, peanut), and nuts and seeds
Polyunsaturated. This type of fat is found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids instead of saturated fats improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease and may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Sources: nuts, avocados, olives, liquid plant-based cooking oils (grape seed, sesame, sunflower, vegetable), and certain seeds and animal fats
Omega-3 (polyunsaturated fat)
One type of polyunsaturated fat is made up of mainly omega-3 fatty acids and may be especially beneficial for heart health. Omega-3, found in some types of fatty fish, appears to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease.
Sources: salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring. Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed (ground), oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean), and nuts and other seeds (walnuts, butternuts and chia seeds).
While omega-3s are best obtained through food, there are many omega-3 and fish oil supplements available.
Predominately found in animal foods such as fatty meat, cheese, cream, butter. Saturated fats raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol levels, which may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. We don’t necessarily have to totally avoid saturated fats, however we should limit them.
TRANS FATS (processed)
The worst type of fat since it not only raises bad LDL cholesterol but also lowers good HDL levels. Artificial trans fats can create inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions and contributes to insulin resistance, which increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. These are to be avoided! As long as we avoid artificial trans fats, such as those found in fried foods and pastries, we can use the rest of the fine and tasty fats to power us through our days.
Know you know your body needs healthy fats to function normally don’t completely eliminate fat from your diet. If you try to avoid all fat, you risk getting insufficient amounts of fat soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids.
Also, in attempting to remove fat from your diet, you may end up eating too many processed foods promoted as low-fat or fat-free rather than healthier and naturally lower fat whole foods. Instead of doing away with fat in your diet, enjoy healthy fats as part of your balanced diet.