Fat has a heavy reputation. Eat large amounts of it and most people think you’ll pay a hefty price. Evidence shows that not all fats are created equal. Here are some fat facts so you can weigh up your options and improve your health.
Eating fat does not make you fat. There are certain fats that will actually assist with weight loss. Healthy fats are essential for good health and benefit your skin, eyes, hair, hormones and stop you from feeling fatigued and hungry. If you’re feeling cold, exhausted and moody then you may not have enough fat in your diet.
Studies show full-fat dairy is healthier than reduced fat dairy. It can in fact reduce your risk of diabetes. Recent studies have also shown that low-fat diets don’t protect against cardiovascular disease or breast cancer. Fat has also been shown to assist weight loss as it’s slowly digested unlike carbohydrate which triggers insulin stimulating your appetite.
Monounsaturated fat is a fat with benefits. It’s found in olive and canola oil, avocado, peanut butter and nuts such as almonds pistachios, pecans and cashews. This fat improves cholesterol and decreases your risk of heart disease. Use avocado instead of butter as a spread and snack on nuts or make a pesto to increase your intake.
Polyunsaturated fat includes omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Omega-3 is found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, herring and sardines. It is also present in walnuts, canola and soybean oil, flaxseed, eggs and milk products. Grill fresh fish or use it canned in salads or sandwiches. Enjoy milk for breakfast or eggs cooked in canola oil.
Omega-6 fats are found in sunflower, safflower and corn oils. They’re also found in nuts and seeds such as almonds, pecans, brazil nuts, sunflower and sesame seeds. These facts are important for brain development, immune system function and heart protection. Choose bread that has plenty of seeds, sprinkle seeds and nuts on salads, stir fries or poke bowls and keep nuts handy as a snack.
Saturated fat is considered an unhealthy fat and has been linked to heart disease. To reduce your intake limit butter, lard, shortening, full fat milk, cream and fatty cuts of meat and chicken with the skin on. It’s also found in processed foods such as packaged cakes, biscuits, pastries, pies and deep-fried chips, nuggets and seafood.
Coconut oil is high in saturated fat and contains a saturated fatty acid called lauric acid. Research has shown that despite many health claims it still raises cholesterol and increases your risk of heart disease. It also doesn’t provide any of the polyphenol antioxidant compounds that are found in oils such as extra virgin olive oil.
Trans fat will also do you a fat lot of good. It’s made out of liquid oil that is then changed into solid fat. Commonly found in commercially baked goods, fried foods and processed, convenience food such as frozen pies and sausage rolls. The National Heart Foundation found that trans fats are linked to heart attack and heart disease.
Reduce your saturated and trans-fat in your diet but don’t cut all fat if you’re trying to lose weight. Fat may be higher in calories than carbohydrate and protein, but it can also make you feel fuller for longer; make your hair and skin look fabulous and its long-term health benefits are huge.