Often considered the bad guys of nutrition, the right fats, in the right quantities are essential for good health and wellbeing. And the surprise is that they are needed to burn stored body fat.
In the first of this series ‘Wellness and a Healthy Diet – Carbohydrates for energy and more’ the importance of a good balanced wholefood diet was briefly discussed. This included fats in the diet.
What are fats?
Fats are categorised by saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Fat intake while necessary, should be limited to no more than 20 to 35% of dietary intake.
- Saturated fats should only be consumed in moderate amounts. They are found in animal foods such as eggs, cheese, full cream milk and meat and coconut oil and palm oil. These fats can increase blood cholesterol and should only be consumed in small amounts of less than 7% of the diet.
- Monounsaturated fats can help to improve cardiovascular health and reduce cholesterol. They included olive oil, canola oil, avocado, cashews, almonds and hazelnuts.
- Polyunsaturated fats may also help to lower cholesterol and inflammation. Omega 3 is an important source of polyunsaturated fats and can be found in tuna, salmon, and sardines. Omega 6 can be found in sunflower, nuts and vegetarian sources.
Trans fats are the bad guys. These are usually found in commercially produced foods such as margarine and store purchased cake and biscuits. Trans fats increase cholesterol and are often considered carcinogenic.
Which fats should I eat?
- Fats are high in energy but an excess in fats can contribute to weight increase.
- Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the preferred forms of dietary fats.
- Saturated fats should only be eaten in moderation. When choosing saturated fats choose low fat dairy and lean cuts of meat.
- Trans fats should be avoided.
How does Omega 3 improve health?
The benefits of Omega 3 are well documented and the reason so many people are on Fish Oil supplements (supplements should only be taken under professional recommendations). Some of the benefits include:
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve cell integrity
- Reduce blood pressure
- Reduce triglycerides
- Thins the blood
- Can help concentration and brain health
- Improve eye health
- May assist in the healthy brain development of a foetus
Article by Naturopath Janne Ramsay