Over the years we were told that fat isn’t good for us, that it makes us fat, and it can contribute to cardiovascular diseases. And so we cut down on it or switched to low-fat and fat-free products. But was this shift the healthier option?
Well, the opposite is the truth. Eating the right kinds of dietary fat can offer health and weight-loss benefits. So yes, fat is good for you!
The truth is:
Your body needs fat, it needs the so called ‘good’ fat delivered from real food. Fat is a major source of energy, it helps you absorb some important vitamins and minerals. It is needed to build the exterior part of your cells, and it is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation.
Just like we discussed carbohydrates in our previous blog >Carbs are GOOD for you! some fats are better than others. The good fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, while the not-at-all-good ones are the man-made and processed trans fats. Saturated fats lay somewhere in between.
THE BAD FAT
The worst dietary fat is known as trans fat. It is a byproduct of a process that turns healthy oils into solids to make them last longer. There are 0 health benefits from trans fats! This kind of fat is found in solid margarines, vegetable shortening, commercial cookies, pastries and most fast-foods fries or fried foods.
Eating foods rich in trans fats increases the amount of harmful-bad (LDL) cholesterol in the body, while reducing the amount of beneficial-good (HDL) cholesterol.
How do trans fats effect my health?
• create inflammation
• heart disease and stroke
• contribute to insulin resistance (increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes)
*for every 2% of calories from trans fat eaten daily, the risk of heart disease rises by 23%!
THE OK-ish FAT
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, and liquid once heated up. They are not as harmful as the trans fats, but a diet rich in saturated fats can spike up cholesterol, especially the more harmful type. This LDL cholesterol can form blockages in the arteries. Which is why it is ok to eat this type of fat but, in moderation.
High-quality saturated fat sources: grass-fed butter, coconut oil, ghee whole milk and other whole-milk dairy foods
Fat is good for you
Healthy fats benefits:
• Improves fat-soluble vitamin absorption
• Maximises metabolism
• Provides fuel & energy
• Maintains healthy skin
• Help the body absorb nutrients
• Improves nerve, brain and heart function
High- quality monounsaturated fats sources: peanut oil, sesame oil, and olive oil, canola oil, avocados, and most nuts
*always choose cold pressed oils
Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats, meaning they are required for normal body function. However, your body can’t make them, so you need get them from food. Eating polyunsaturated fats reduces the bad LDL cholesterol and improves overall cholesterol profile.
There are two types of polyunsaturated fats:
• omega-3 fatty acids (fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil)
• omega-6 fatty acids (vegetable oils, soybean, sunflower, walnut, and corn oils)
Omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent heart disease and stroke, reduce blood pressure, raise HDL. There are other health improvements such as lowering the risk of dementia which is what makes the Omega-3 fatty acids the best kind of fat.
BUT WHAT ABOUT FAT-FREE PRODUCTS?
When removing fats from foods, something else needs to be added instead. And guess what that is? Yup => processed sugar!
You can read more about sugar and which sugar type is actually good for you on our blog > The Healthiest Sugar Alternatives
Sugar causes damage to your body, because it digests simply to elevate blood sugar levels. On the other hand, fat is more complex, and can be crucial for maintaining satiety and metabolic health. Hence low-fat diet foods, full of sugar and starch are actually worse for your health than full fat products.