Monday, 11 January 2016
Which Fats Should You Be Eating?
Let's talk about fats - the fats that are essential for our health, the fats that can help us lose weight, the fats we should be eating more of and the fats we should be avoiding.
There's a common misconception that all fats are bad for us and they make us pile on the pounds, which isn't true of all fats. Some fats aren't good for us, but a lot of fats are essential for our healthy & wellbeing - hence why they're called 'essential fatty acids' and we should be eating them every day to provide us with energy, maintain cell health, boost the immune system, enable our body to absorb nutrients, help our hair to shine & our skin to glow and these good fats are also amazing for the brain.
The first thing to remember is that not all fats are equal, something that's high in saturated fat isn't the same as something high in unsaturated - your body doesn't react the same way to them.
Let's start with the bad fats so we can get them out of the way, trans fats and saturated fats (with the exception of coconut oil) don't do us any good. Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products like meat and cheese which aren't the things to be eating if you want a healthy, happy body but the devil of the fat world is trans fat. Trans fat is a highly processed type of fat that is found in margarine, some oils, processed meats and 'low-fat' or 'diet' products - yes, low-fat ready meals, diet snacks or drinks may be low in saturated fats but they're often bursting with trans fat because it prolongs the shelf-life of the product. These trans fats raise your bad cholesterol levels significantly which increases your risk of heart disease - something no-one wants! To avoid these evil fats you should limit (or preferably completely cut) your intake of baked foods such as cakes, cookies, pies and biscuits, fried foods such as chips, doughnuts and fried meats and any microwave meal.
The one saturated fat I encourage everyone to get into their diet comes in the form of coconut oil. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple of years I'm sure you'll have heard all the hype surrounding coconut oil, but why is it so brilliant for us when it's high in saturated fat? The fat in coconut oil is of a different structure to other saturated fats and our body metabolises it in a better way. Coconut oil actually boosts our metabolism, increases the energy (or calories) our body burns, and it's actually linked to the reduction of obesity, prevention of heart disease and reduces the risk of diabetes. A true superfood!
Let's move on to my favourite fats - the ones that are the secret to amazing hair and skin, an increase in energy, protection of organs and healthy cells. The fats found in some of my favourite foods like avocado, nuts and olive oil are called monounsaturated fats and this magical fat helps to keep your bad cholesterol levels low, lowers the risk of heart disease & stroke, aids in weight loss and it can decrease your risk of getting breast cancer too.
We all know I'm about happiness-boosting foods, well the good news is these monounsaturated fats may reduce your risk of depression. In a 2011 study with 12,000 people it showed that the participants eating healthy fats had a 30% lower risk of getting depression, whereas the participants consuming trans fats had a whopping 48% increased risk of depression. That's because fats have the ability to lead biological changes in our body. I don't know about you but avocados definitely make me happy!
Onto poly-saturated fats, these are fats omega-3 and omega-6 that cannot be made by our body so we have to consume them through diet. These fats, known as 'essential fatty acids', play a key role in protecting your body, and omega-3 is extremely anti-inflammitory. You can find these omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp, leafy greens and if you eat fish wild salmon and mackerel are your best bets.
The good fats I've spoken about play a key role in my diet, and I thank them for my brighter skin, healthier hair and happier mood. Since I've upped my intake of foods such as avocados, almonds, raw nut butters and coconut oil I've had increased energy, my body feels stronger, I look leaner and I feel happier. It's no surprise really, considering all the amazing benefits these fats have and how much they help our body - did you know that fat must be present for you to absorb important vitamins A, D, E & K? Plus, our body needs fat to be able to protect cell membranes and grow new healthy cells.
So, next time you reach for the 'low fat' diet product or the quick ready meal think about what it's actually going to do to your body and your mind. Instead try adding a teaspoon of almond butter to your porridge, cook with coconut oil, make a salad dressing from cold-pressed olive oil and apple cider vinegar, snack on some walnuts & cashews, munch on that avocado on toast and enjoy recipes such as raw energy balls. You'll feel more glowing, happy and healthy with every bite!
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