Fat is one of those confusing and sometimes (for nutritionists) infuriating topics because Dr. Google can give you so many misleading and confusing answers.
Is at good or bad? Well, that’s a very broad question with quite an explanation behind it. Firstly, fat or ‘fatty acids’ are long-chained molecules, and their melting point increases or decreases depending on their chemical structure. Therefore, the lower the number of double bonds in a fatty acid’s molecular chain, the higher the melting point, and thickness, of the fatty acid.
Let’s take a quick look at the types of fats available:
Called monounsaturated due to their chemical structure, they have one (mono) double bond. These guys have a higher melting point than polyunsaturated fats so they are great to cook with at high temperatures. E.g.: Olive oil, Peanut oil, Sesame oil.
These guys have 2 or more double bonds in their chemical structures (hence the ‘poly’ in their name). Omega 3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and trout. Other sources include flaxseed and hempseed.
When the facts finally came out that we need fats to be healthy – poor old saturated fats still got a bad rap (and still do). Yes, too much can increase your risk of heart disease but carefully choosing your saturated fats and limiting your intake is key to a healthy, balanced diet.
Sometimes called “trans-saturated fat”, Trans fats are most commonly seen in processed foods. Hydrogenation on unsaturated fats alters the bonds within the molecule to yield a “trans” fat. These ‘fats’ are the real bad boys of the fat world. They have been shown to increase health conditions such as coronary heart disease. They do scarcely occur in nature; however, you’ll find them in sources such as fast food, pastries, packaged snacks, margarine, etc.
WHY DO I NEED FATS?
First and foremost our bodies need fat for energy, it also helps us to keep fuller for longer when we consume it. We need fat for healthy cells, a healthy brain – both the building of the brain as well as neuron signalling. It helps us to absorb fat-soluble nutrients such as Vitamins A, E, K and D and gives us healthy skin.
Our body needs fat to produce hormones such as thyroid hormones, sex hormones, the list goes on. Fats are just so vital for a healthy body but we’ve become so ‘phobic’ of fat and healthy foods which contain it, that we’ve caused ourselves to develop hormonal disorders, nutrient deficiencies, issues such as depression and other mental health disorders, and fatigue disorders.
Our body is like a giant kitchen with millions of recipes. Without the necessary ingredients needed for our internal recipes, we’re unable to create the necessary components needed for our body to function adequately. Just like a cake, if you left out the flour or the eggs – you’d be left with, well… goop? Not a cake.
SO WHERE DO I FIND GOOD FATS?
Sources where you will find healthy fats include olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, fish oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, and fatty fish. You need to try to have fish around 2 to 3 times per week, maybe add a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to your smoothie each morning (you won’t taste it, I promise), most days have a handful of nuts and seeds – don’t be afraid of these fats. They’re doing your body good.
Just to add a bit more education into the mix, unhealthy fat sources are the obvious – fast food, deep-fried food, margarine (always choose butter, not margarine), pastries and baked goods, cakes, biscuits, muesli bars, etc. Basically, if it didn’t fall from a tree or you can’t hunt it – don’t eat it.
WHAT’S THE GO WITH LOW FAT?
Let’s use low-fat dairy as an example. Milk and milk products naturally have fat in them and it’s for a very good reason! As mentioned above, fat helps us to feel full and stay full for longer. If you lower the fat content of milk, you are actually raising its glycaemic index which in time will make you put on weight and increase your body fat percentage.
If you consume a dairy product such as yoghurt which is full fat, you are more likely to have only a few mouthfuls or a small tub and you’ve had enough. If you’re consuming low-fat yoghurt there is less of that satiating fat to keep you full and satisfied and so you end up eating a lot more or reaching for something else as well.
On top of all of that, the fat contains the fat-soluble vitamins which are essential for optimal health and wellbeing… many of which the majority of us are deficient in!
When it comes to dairy products, I recommend the full-fat versions however don’t go overboard either. It’s all comes down to moderation!
Hotwire Your Health!
If you want to enhance your overall health and well-being, consider exploring the world of Martial Arts. At Wu Xing Dao Kung Fu, we believe in a comprehensive approach to Martial Arts that encompasses not only self-defence and physical techniques but also self-discipline, health, and nutrition.
Upon joining our martial arts classes, we provide guidance on the different martial arts styles available and the associated life skills. This enables you to make an informed decision about which style to pursue. Our program ensures that all students are proficient in self-defence while also reaping the numerous health benefits of practising martial arts
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