In the 60s and 70s, we were taught that fat was “bad” and that fat makes you fat. So we were on a mission to eat low fat or zero fat everything.
The truth is we need certain fats. Essential fatty acids are a large part of the building blocks for the bodies functions, including hormone production. So we find ourselves in a quagmire of confusion. There are articles telling you it's OK to eat them, some telling you to avoid them like the plague, then there are some that say moderation is key! What exactly is moderation and which fats should we be moderately including?
All fats have the same calorific value per gram (9 Kcal/g), and, as with anything if you eat an excess amount of calories compared to your expenditure, you will gain weight. Excess weight can over time lead to health problems such as diabetes and heart problems.
So why is there such a difference between fats we get excited about like avocado and fats we shy away from?
Fats are split into the following classifications depending on their chemical construction - saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.
The department of health recommends that our daily intake of fat should not exceed 35% of our daily calorie intake. There are a myriad of apps that can help you to monitor this if you are unsure.
Total fat - 95g male / 70g female
Saturated fat - 30g male / 20g female.
What are the different sources of fats?
Effectively saturated fats are found in cakes biscuits and pastries. These can be consumed but it is advisable to keep them to a minimum. Transfats are produced when partially hydrogenated vegetable fats are manufactured in large quantities. These have been shown to be potentially more detrimental than saturated fats which were once considered to be the bad guys. As a general rule unsaturated fats tend to remain as a liquid at room temperature. They contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated versions and can be found in oily fish, flaxseed, linseed, avocados, nuts, olive oils and walnuts. Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish can help maintain heart health, assist the body to reduce inflammation, pain and consequently, it is advisable to eat at least two portions of oily fish a week, if not more. Currently, there is a lot of love in the nutrition world for the Mediterranean style diet which contains less saturated fats but is a strong source of unsaturated fats.
In any situation, especially if you have had a cholesterol test they are higher than normal, altering the food you are eating can help but if you are unsure seek advice from a professional.
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