Written by Charlotte Campbell
Don’t Avoid Fats
Fat has become something of a dirty word in modern society. It’s often assumed that eating fat makes you fat. But it’s a myth that all fat is harmful to the body. The fat you find in a greasy cheeseburger is not the same as that found in avocado or olive oil.
Here’s our quick guide to fat, and how you should include it in your diet.
Are All Fats The Same?
No. There are three main fats to be aware of: Saturated, trans and unsaturated.
This is the kind of fat commonly found in red meat, dairy products and baked products. Diets high in saturated fat are at risk of high cholesterol and subsequent heart problems. You should keep the amount of saturated fat in your diet low – under 10% of your daily calorie consumption. You can lower your saturated fat intake by trimming visible fat off meat and swapping your dairy products for soy or plant-based alternatives.
Bonus Tip: Sources of saturated fat such as coconut oil and palm oil are also sources of medium chain triglycerides. This means their make-up makes your body find them very easy to break down into energy, and has been linked to improvements in metabolism. So, don’t necessarily exclude these products from your diet even if you are cutting down on saturated fat.
This is the fat you should avoid the most. It is an unnatural fat that occurs in food production. It is created by artificially making healthy fats more solid at room temperature and adding preservatives. These fats are also linked to a rise in cholesterol, as well as an increased risk of diabetes. It is found in products such as margarine, long-lasting baked goods and fried foods – so not too hard to spot as unhealthy!
You can often spot them in the ingredients as “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil”. Don’t be fooled, they have none of the benefits of the oils below.
Poly and Mono Unsaturated Fat
This is the fat that is found in plant products and fish. Olive oil, sunflower oil, avocado and nuts are all sources of unsaturated fat. This kind of fat is the healthiest and provides your body with the most benefits.
Your body uses this fat to protect cells and nerves, and help your body recover from inflammation and muscle soreness. The fats found in oily fish and plant oils are also helpful for helping to fight heart disease.
Will I Be Better Off Cutting Out All Fats?
Your body cannot produce the essential nutrients found in unsaturated fats. So, it is essential you include them in your diets. However, saturated and trans fats provide little benefit so you can replace these entirely with unsaturated fats.
Should I Just Stick To “Fat-Free” Products?
Definitely not. Food manufacturers cash in on the perception of all fats as harmful. Often, the reduction in fat is then made up for in extra sugar or artificial ingredients. This can make these products worse for your body than regular full-fat versions. Compare the ingredients in the products you are choosing. The more confusing the list is, the quicker you should put it back on the shelf.
These products rarely contain sources of unsaturated fat, which is the main fat you should be aiming to consume.