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Will Fats Make Me Fat?

The word ‘fat’ is thrown around more and more these days.

 

As you browse the aisles of the supermarket you will be swarmed with ‘low-fat’ this, and ‘reduced-fat’ that.

 

Then you go home and your girlfriend asks you if she looks ‘fat’ in her jeans…

 

You can’t escape it.

 

There’s no denying it.

 

The world is obsessed with fat.

 

So here comes the confusing part. Which fats should we be eating, and which should we be staying away from?

 

You’ve most probably heard the term “healthy fat”. But how do you distinguish the healthy fats, from the not so healthy fats?

 

I’m aware that it is all pretty confusing – so I’m here to break it down for you.

 

Trans-fatty acids (TFAs) are naturally occurring fats in animal and meat products. In no way am I suggesting for you to avoid eating animal products. I suggest that you always choose lean, and preferably organic cuts of meat (although more on that another time), and enjoy them daily.

 

The sources of TFA’s that I am worried about are those that are not naturally occurring.

 

These are fats that are manufactured by partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. You will find TFA’s largely in margarine, deep-fried foods (McDonald’s/KFC), doughnuts, cookies, cakes, chips, or any product that has “hydrogenated oils” or “partially hydrogenated oils” listed in the ingredients.

 

The consumption of TFA’s from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils provides no apparent nutritional benefit, and has huge potential for harm. These are the guys that you should be worried about. These fats are the ones that are going to contribute to poor cardiovascular health – And a muffin top!

 

Saturated Fats are naturally occurring fats in meat products, dairy, coconut oil and palm oil.

 

Cooking with coconut oil when frying is a good idea, as it stays stable at a higher heat. The fatty acids in coconut oil are powerful antibiotics shown to have antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral qualities providing health benefits such as hair and skin care, improved digestion and strengthened immunity. Be sure to always choose extra virgin coconut oil, as an inferior product may have the inclusion of nasty trans fats!

 

Saturated fat in the diet is beneficial for optimal cell and bone health – between 30 to 50% of your daily dietary fats should be saturated.

 

However, not all sources of saturated fats are created equal.

 

Processed meats, dairy products, and bakery items are all foods that have high levels of saturated fats, and will also be sure to raise your cholesterol through the roof! Steering clear of foods such as these is important if you want to stay lean and heart healthy.


Polyunsaturated fats can be divided into two groups of Essential Fatty Acids: Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids.

 

These are essential to the diet, as the human body cannot manufacture them.

 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary for energy production, oxygen transfer, muscle recovery, cell growth, immune function, and brain and nerve development and maintenance.

 

Fatty fish like wild salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, oysters etc. as well as walnuts, flax seeds, and omega-3 fortified eggs provide a rich source of omega-3s.


Omega-6 fatty acids (EFAs) are found in most nuts, seeds and grains and the oils that are extracted from them.

 

The issue with Omega 3 and Omega 6 EFAs is the balance in which you eat them. An ideal ratio of omega-3:omega-6 EFAs in your diet is 1:3.

 

Nutritious sources of omega-6 EFAs are plentiful, and widely available. Whereas most people will not be consuming enough omega-3s, so will need to supplement their diet with a good quality fish oil capsule.

 

A lack of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, or an imbalance between omega-3 and omega 6 EFAs can contribute to obesity, depression, cancer, heart attack, stroke, arthritis and chronic inflammatory disorders.

 

Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Foods high in monounsaturated fats are olive, canola and peanut oils, avocados, and some nuts and seeds.

 

So now that we know about all the different types of fat, can you see how all fats play an important role? Without them we would not be unable to function – both physically and mentally – as the nutritional benefits from including fats in our diet are enormous.

 

As long as you remember that moderation is always the key!

 

I have officially given you the green light to snack on nuts, seeds, and cook with oil to ensure a range of healthy fats in your diet… But don’t overdo it! In the end, each gram of fat contains 9 calories and – regardless of its nutritional value – is a calorie nonetheless!

 

So don’t deny yourself fat! Rather, eat the right sorts of fat, and avoid the types that are going to make you, well … fat!

 

-V x

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