When trying to lose weight or make healthier choices, fats are often one of the first things we think about reducing or even trying to cut out completely. But fats are a vital component of our bodies, and small amounts of the right types of fats should be included in your snacks and meals to keep your body and metabolism functioning properly.
Why do we need fats?
Fat serves many different purposes inside our bodies. It is a source of energy and is needed to build our cell membrane and keep our cells intact. Fat also helps to insulate our nerve cells, aids blood clotting and allows us to absorb vitamins A, D and E which are fat soluble. These are essential functions of our body, meaning that fats are essential too!
What are “Bad” Fats?
You may have heard of “Good Fats” and “Bad Fats”. These types of fats differ in their molecular structure and have different effects on the body. All fats are made up of a carbon chain with several hydrogen atoms bonded along its length. Saturated fats have hydrogen atoms packed along their entire length and cause an increase in unhealthy blood cholesterol. This can gradually narrow our arteries and lead to heart disease, the No.1 cause of death in the world. Studies have shown that high levels of saturated fats have also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, some cancers and a decreased insulin sensitivity which can lead to diabetes. It’s easy to see why these fats are best to be avoided, but where do we find them?
Saturated fats are mostly solid at room temperature and can be found in foods such as coconut oil, red meat, cheese, ice cream, dairy products. Interestingly, you may notice that the majority of these sources are animal products. Removing animal products from your diet can therefore significantly reduce your intake of saturated fats and have a hugely positive impact on your health.
What are “Good Fats”?
Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, are the healthy fats that we need for essential bodily functions. These fats have fewer hydrogen atoms along their carbon chain and at least one double bond in their carbon chain. They are mostly liquid at room temperature and can be found in a variety of plant-based foods, including avocados, vegetable oils such as olive oil, nuts ,seeds and peanut butter. A balanced plant-based diet can therefore provide us with all the essential fats we need whilst hugely reducing the bad fats that can lead to health issues.
What else should I know?
If you are looking to lose weight, it is important to note that each gram of fat contains 9 calories, so don’t overdose on the peanut butter! And avoid cooking with oils, you can replace with water or vegetable broth.
If you want some ideas of oil free dishes to make, hit the link below to download five oil-free recipes!
Another great tip for fat consumption is to try and aim to incorporate your healthy fat sources into meals that you’re going to be eating later in the day rather than earlier. This is because the liver during the night works to detox and remove toxins and once you start your morning with fats, even the healthy fats such as avocado, nuts or seeds, the liver will have to stop doing the detox and focus its energy on producing bile to digest the fat that you have consumed.
I hope you've found this post helpful and that you now feel you have a good grasp on what type of fats you should be eating. If you have any questions don't hesitate to let me know below.
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