Monday, 28 October 2013

Let's Talk About Fat

As I am sure you have seen, over the last week or so fat has hit the media headlines. It is now emerging that fat can indeed be good for you - providing you eat the right fats! About time if you ask me.

Firstly lets look at the types of fats that are found in foods:
  • Saturated Fat - for years we have been told not to eat saturated fat as it can block our arteries and raise your blood pressure, however over the last few weeks research has come to light that this may not in fact be the case. Saturated fat will solidify at room temperate and is found in nuts, coconut and palm oil, butter, fish oil, cheese and dark chocolate, processed meats (no thank you) and rendered animal fats (suet, lard, goose and duck) follow this link for a recent BBC article on the subect.
  • Trans Fats - now these are the fats that you need to stay away from because they are changed by a process called hydrogenation. This process changes the fat so that our body does not recognise the food causing upset in the digestive system and in turn your health. This fat too is said to increase your cholesterol. Which in fairness maybe true - refer to my blog on Cholesterol, if this unknown substance is causing harm the body, your cholesterol will rush round and try to repair the damage! Trans fats can be found in many processed foods, snack foods such as crisps, margarine's and salad dressings (you know those nice 'low fat healthy' dressings!) 
  • Unsaturated Fat - it has been said that this fat can help lower cholesterol levels! There are two types of unsaturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fat is found in vegetable oils and if used instead of saturated fat may lower your bad cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fat is found in most sea foods. Again if eaten instead of saturated fat it may help lower your cholesterol. 
Right so what about saturated fats, over the last week saturated fats have made the headlines and now people are starting to ask whether previous research is really enough to give this fat a bad rap! For years we have been told that by eating foods high in saturated fats will cause heart disease, clogged arteries and high cholesterol. There is a lot of evidence showing that people who suffer from a heart attack are up to three times more likely to recover if they were to follow a Mediterranean style diet full of olive oil, fish and nuts (healthy fats), fruits and vegetables than those who are prescribed statins. Follow this link for a more in depth article on this subject. I would say 'Eat Everything in Moderation' but lets be honest - that's bull crap. Just make better educated decisions when it comes to eating. Stick to natural one ingredient foods including your fats.

Lets not forget that our brains are the fattest part of our bodies at approximately 60% being fat!

I am not saying eating fast food and takeaways is the way to consume your fat but when wanting to lose weight do not think you can't eat nuts just because they may equate to over 300 calories, chances are a few nuts will keep you fuller for longer compared to a sugar filled chocolate bar or some crisps. 

Foods that are high in fat but are extremely healthy and beneficial for your health are:
  1. Avocado
  2. Coconut (coconut oil and coconut flour is something I have started to use a lot in my home cooking)
  3. Nuts (not so much peanuts)
  4. Flax seed
  5. Grass fed Butter
  6.  Olive oil (try to use this as a dressing rather than for cooking) 
  7. Fish
Why our Bodies Need Fat 
  • Fat provides needed energy. It is difficult to eat the large amounts of food in a very low fat diet to get all the energy you need.
  • Fat is needed to prevent essential fatty acid deficiency.
  • Fat is needed so your body can absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, S, E, K, and prevent deficiencies of these vitamins.
  • Fat provides flavor and texture to help prevent food from being bland and dry (just stat away from hydrogenated fats)
  • Fat helps food to stay in the stomach longer, giving a greater sense of satisfaction and preventing hunger soon after meals.
  • Fat may help your body produce endorphins (natural substances in the brain that produce pleasurable feelings).
  • Diets too low in fat (less than 20 - 25%) may trigger cravings, especially for sugary foods or foods like bread which are high in carbohydrates and wheat. (read my blog on wheat to find out what we should eat little to no wheat) 
So do me a favour - and cut the Low Fat diets! 

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