When people think of healthy eating, they often think of avoiding all fats. Yes, avoiding greasy deep fried foods and fatty meats is always advisable, but there are some fats that our body cannot survive without.
Firstly, let’s have a quick look at the different types of fats that are out there.
When health professionals talk about avoiding fatty foods, it is these foods that they are usually referring to. Though many healthy foods, such as chicken and nuts contain small amounts of saturated fats, they are nothing like cream, cheese or lamb chops which are all high in saturated fats.
Somewhere in between saturated fats and unsaturated fats comes these ‘Trans fats’ which should also be avoided. These are found in small amounts in beef fat and dairy fat, however they are also artificially created through a process called hydrogenation. This is done to make the fats last longer and withstand being heated several times, so they are used in margarines or for deep frying.
These are the good guys and should make up about 30% of you daily calorie intake.
Unsaturated fats fall into two categories; monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. What makes these two types of fats different is the number of double bonds in their structure. Here are a list of different foods that fall into the two different categories:
Monounsaturated fats -
- Olive oils, canola oils and peanut oils.
- Nuts and seeds
Polyunsaturated fats -
- Fish (great source of Omega 3 fatty acids!)
- Flax seeds
- Sunflower, flaxseed and soybean oils
So why are fats so important?
There are many health benefits to be gained from fats, which make them essential to a healthy diet.
- They support brain and nerve function
- Lower cholesterol and decrease risk of heart disease
- Assist in the absorption of essential nutrients, including vitamins A,D,E and K
- Essential to the growth and development of cells
- Are a usable source of energy
- Support shiny hair and healthy nails and skin
- They are required in the forming of specific hormones needed in regulating bodily processes
One of the reasons I love incorporating healthy fats into my diet is because they taste delicious and they help me feel satisfied for longer, so that I don’t find myself needing more food half an hour after a meal!
Like everything, good fats are best eaten in moderation, but if fat is something you are avoiding in your diet, don’t overlook the importance of good fats for a healthy and happy body!