WE NEED FATS! This is one of the most important nutritional messages out there!
Fats are absolutely necessary for your health and suitably named ‘essential fatty acids’!
Did you know that fats make up two thirds of your brain! Fats are needed in the body for so many reasons including:
- Brain development, controlling inflammation, and blood clotting
- Source of energy stored in every cell in the body in the form of ATP – your energy molecule
- Building blocks of your cell membranes providing a myriad of processes to maintain cell integrity and metabolic function necessary for life
- The myelin sheath that surrounds your nerves and assists with transmission of nerve impulses is primarily made up fats
- Create satiety, leaving you feeling full after a meal
- Necessary for the production of your hormones
- Fill your fat cells and insulate your body, protecting your internal organs and helping to keep you warm
- Absorb fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K
It was only a few years ago that low fat diets ‘were in’ but we now know that fats provide a number of important health benefits including weight loss, hormone production, increased mood and brain health, increased stamina and endurance and improved health biomarkers such as decreasing LDLs and triglycerides and increasing HDLs. This in turn can lower the risk of cardio vascular disease.
We obtain essential fatty acids from the foods we eat so it is important to distinguish between the fats you should have in your diet and those you should avoid, in order to make the right food choices.
Here are some facts on the healthy fats:
1. Best Sources of Omega 3 Unsaturated Fats
- Lean meats
- Seafood – oily fish such as sardines, wild salmon, rainbow trout, blue eyed cod/trevalla
- Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk
- Raw nuts
- Seeds such as linseeds/flaxseeds/chia
- Olives and olive oil
- Coconut and coconut oil
- Unheated organic nut oils
- Tofu and soya beans
Supplementing with a good quality fish oil is often necessary to ensure your needs are met.
Remember that Omega-3 fatty acids are very susceptible to oxidation and proper storage of omega 3 foods is needed. Store in an airtight container in a dark cabinet or in the fridge. Refrigeration is particularly important for ground nuts and seeds.
2. Best Sources of Saturated Fats:
Your body needs saturated fats to operate at its peak. They are the preferred fuel for your heart and used in energy expenditure so please incorporate a variety of meats including beef, chicken, turkey, pork. Organic (if possible), hormone free and grass fed. Other quality sources of saturated fats are eggs and dairy products such as whole milk cow or goat’s milk, butter, full fat cheese and natural yogurt. Non homogenised and pasteurised milks or organic products are suggested.
For the vegetarian, examples of healthy saturated fats include coconut meat, milk and oil, nuts and seeds, olive oil, sesame oil, oily fish and fish oils (if you are pescatarian).
3. Cooking with Fats and Oils:
It is a ‘YES’ for cooking with coconut oil, butter, ghee and avocado oil on medium to high temperatures. They are very stable at room temperature and do not oxidise (go rancid) easily due to their high saturated fat content. Olive oil can be used in low heat cooking and perfect for salads and cold uses.
It is a ‘NO’ for cooking with nut and seed oils such as walnut, hazelnut, macadamia, flaxseed oil and almond. They do go rancid quickly and can be genetically modified. These oils should always be cold pressed or first pressed and are ideal for salad dressings.
4. Fats to Avoid:
Trans fats should be avoided at all costs. They are unhealthy fats that cause clogging of the arteries and alter lipid levels leading to heart disease and other serious health concerns. Trans fats are formed when vegetable oils undergo a hydrogenation process and can be found in processed foods. Ensure you read food labels to avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated ingredients often found in baked goods, margarines, biscuits, food bars.
Vegetable oils are usually refined and heated when processed therefore reducing their benefits. When overheating these oils in the cooking process they can become toxic producing oxidative products that are detrimental to your health and potentially carcinogenic.
Now that you know the good and the bad about fats, feel free to incorporate a little healthy fat into your every meal!
All of our posts reflect our philosophy at A Healthy View www.ahealthyview.com. A whole real food perspective on food and life. Extremes do not work but clean, whole, tasty and easy food choices can create a lifetime of good habits that lead to a lean, happy, and healthy person.
Contact us on our website for our next Low Sugar Lifestyle program or a nutritional consult. Article by Sara Millikin