Tuesday, 12 September 2017

IS THERE SUCH THING AS 'GOOD FAT'?

The terms ‘good fats’ and ‘bad fats’ are always being thrown around in the media, and I overheard someone the other saying to their friend “there is no such thing as good fat”. Now, I don’t like to label any food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ as I believe this can feed a shaming guilt cycle…but that discussion is for another time! However, if you’re wondering whether you should cut fat completely from your diet, then my answer is no! We actually need fats as part of a healthy diet. There are different types of fats though, so it’s helpful to know which fats are essential and which can be harmful to our health if too much is consumed.

So…what is fat? Fat is a rich, calorie dense energy source, containing 9 calories per gram. This goes for ALL types of fat, regardless of what food it comes from. Therefore, too much of any type of fat could encourage weight gain. Yet, consuming too much of any energy dense food could also encourage weight gain. You have probably heard the terms ‘saturated fat’ and ‘unsaturated fat’, AKA‘bad fat’ and ‘good fat’, but do you know what foods these are found in and why certain fatty acids are essential?  Well, below is a break down to make it easier for you to reach for the essential fats more often than the non-essential fats.

SATURATED FATS
AKA ‘Bad Fats’
Image from Unique Training Group

Saturated fat gets its dark reputation because of its association with heart disease. Basically, too much of saturated fat has been shown to increase the amount of cholesterol in our blood, and high cholesterol is not good. Cholesterol is vital for the normal functioning of the body, yet having an excessively high level can increase your risk of serious health conditions, such as heart disease.
How much should I be having? The current guidelines (remember, these are guidelines and not goals, everyone has different needs) for women is 20g and men 30g.
What foods are they found in? Most animal products, such as fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry skin, lard, cream, butter and cheese. Plus, high levels are often found in baked goods and fried foods. You know that health trend of ‘let’s cook everything in coconut oil?’ Yup, that’s also high in saturated fat. Should you stop eating all these things? No, balance guys, whilst this is not an open invitation to go and gorge on cream cakes, if you want a donut or some fish and chips from the local chippy once in a while, go for it. It’s like @thefashionfitnessfoodie says, “moderation isn’t sexy but it’s bloody great.” It’s true, it really is great.

UNSATURATED FATS
AKA ‘Good Fats’
Image from M2Now

These can be broken down into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. We should all try and reach for these types more often than saturated (but this is not me telling you what to do...you do you!) How often? The current guidelines state to replace saturated fats with small amounts of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated where possible. Total fat should not exceed 70g for women and 95g for men, again, these are guidelines and you apply these to your own individual needs and goals.
Polyunsaturated fats provide us with omega-3 and omega-6 fats, which are ESSENTIAL because they can’t be made in the body. These can be found in fatty fish (salmon, trout, mackerel), flaxseed, walnuts, sunflower seeds and vegetable oils.

Monounsaturated fats contain the antioxidant vitamin E (think healthy skin and a strong immune system!) and common sources tend to be avocados (my fave…basic), olive oil and nuts such as brazil nuts, hazelnuts and almonds.

There are other fats too, such as ‘trans fats’, but luckily in the UK, many foods are now free of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil  (which is the artificial type we don’t want)…so I didn’t delve into this for today. Fundamentally, if you have ever wondered if there is such thing as ‘good fat’, then yes, but I prefer to call it ‘essential’. Just remember, moderation

Read more about fats here from the British Heart Foundation.
Love moderation? Then follow the Moderation Queen @thefashionfitnessfoodie on Instagram.

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Livvy

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