This post is in defence of Fat.
Not in defence of the word fat (that’s another topic altogether); but rather, in defence of the macronutrient fat (some of them, anyway).
Fast fat facts:
1) Fats act as fuel for your cells – it’s the most concentrated form of dietary energy
2) They help absorb fat-soluable vitamins, minerals & antioxidants
3) Are a structural component of brain tissue.
I’m going to break it down: you can think of they different types of fat in a scale, whereby 1 are those fats we need in our diets, and 4 are those we absolutely do not:
(1) Monounsaturated Fat –> Polyunsatured Fats –> Saturated Fats –> Trans Fats (4)
The Best Kind of Fat
Are monounsaturated fats: olives (and its oil), rapeseed oil, avocados, nut butters, nuts and seeds.
Monounsaturated fats are regarded as the most beneficial fatty acid because they don’t have a hypercholesterolaemic effect on the blood. This means that they don’t raise levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) in the blood. In fact, they actually lower levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood without affecting levels of HDL (good cholesterol) in the blood. Win.
Smashed avo for all ya’ll.
The Second Best Kind of Fat
Are polyunsaturated fats: vegetable oils like sunflower, corn and groundnut, flaxseed, and oily seafood like salmon, mackerel and trout.
There are actually two types of polyunsaturated fats: Omega 6 linoleic acid & Omega 3 alpha-linoleic acids. These make up what are called Essential Fatty Acids (EFA). They’re essential because our bodies are unable to synthesize them alone which means that a dietary source of these is imperative.
Some EFA’s are more beneficial than others: Omega 3 is “better” than Omega 6.
To generalise a tiny bit, in Western diets we consume too many Omega 6 fatty acids – because corn & maize production has increased significantly since the days our neanderthal ancestors roamed the earth, and it’s now widely available. Now it’s all, corn this, maize that all day erryday. However, Omega 6 fatty acids have an hypercholesterolaemic effect on the blood, which we know is not good. This is why it’s now recommended that we increase our intake of Omega 3 fatty acids – to balance out all the Omega 6 fatty acids we be eating. You dig?
Mackerel and savoury pancakes’ll do.
The Not-terrible Kind of Fats
*Are saturated fats: animal products like milk, meat, and cheese.
Animal-based saturated fats aren’t great because they actually elevate bad cholesterol levels in the blood. Not ideal. They’re also a bit of a nutrition contradiction: plant-based saturated fats like coconut oil and oil derived from palm fruit are high in saturated fats; yet, research has found that coconut oil is good for you because it contains lauric acid, a powerful acid that has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. So: eat your plant-based saturated fats, cut down on the cheese plates.
The Worst Kind of Fats
Are trans fats, aka: nearly all processed foods.
Anything ready-made: think frozen dinners; grocery baked goods; anything with artificial flavourings. Trans fats are man-made. It’s actually created by adding hydrogen (flammable gas) to polyunsaturated fats 😟.
Food manufacturers use trans fats because they:
1) give food a longer shelf life (so can be sold for longer)
2) are inexpensive to produce (so they can have higher profits)
3) are addictive (so they keep you coming back wanting more).
To summarise: eat your avocados, nuts, seeds, oily fish, vegetable oils & plant-based saturated fats. Then, revel with smugness because you know that fat is fab. Fact 😉.