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. However, it’s a myth that all fat is harmful to the body. The fat you find in a greasy cheeseburger is not quite the same as that found in avocado or olive oil.
Here’s our quick guide to fat, and exactly how you should include it in your diet.
First, 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 thought to be at risk of high cholesterol and subsequent heart problems. You should keep the amount of saturated fat in your diet low – the government recommends under 10% of your daily calorie consumption. You can lower your saturated fat intake by trimming visible fat off meat and going for low-fat dairy options.
Sources of saturated fat such as coconut oil are also sources of medium-chain triglycerides. This is thought to make them easier 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’re cutting down on saturated fat.
This is the fat you should avoid the most. Trans fat an unnatural fat that occurs during food production. These fats are also linked to a rise in cholesterol, as well as an increased risk of diabetes. They’re found in products such as margarine, long-lasting baked goods and fried food.
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.
Polyunsaturated & Monounsaturated 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 some of the essential nutrients found in fats, so, it’s therefore 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 that all fats are harmful. Often, the reduction in fat is then made up for as extra sugar. This can make these products worse for your body than regular full-fat versions.
These products rarely contain sources of unsaturated fat, which is the main fat you should be aiming to consume.