Gradually, people are coming round to the knowing that fat is not necessarily the enemy and is in fact an important part of any healthy diet. It’s taking its time, but we are getting there.
Not so long ago it was all about low-fat this and fat-free that in a bid to help lose some weight. However, I am sure now that some of those women are suffering the consequences, such as having trouble conceiving due to a down regulation of certain hormones by being on these low-fat diets for years on end.
Is Low-Fat Really Bad For You Then?
I am not here to try and glorify huge fat consumption, as that can be just as unhealthy as going too low-fat. But rather, I just want help those who are still leaning towards avoiding fat in their diet.
As we mentioned a little earlier, certain hormones in both men and women can be negatively affected. For example, testosterone in both men and women can significantly drop if we don’t get enough fat in our diets. This can then lead to reduced muscle, increased fat, osteoporosis and a lack of libido. Not good.
Also, for those of you going through menopause, your hormones are currently failing at this stage and a good source of healthy fats can help slow that rate of failing hormones. At the other end of the age spectrum, younger women also need a good source of healthy fats to ensure that they maintain a healthy menstrual cycle.
By having a very low-fat diet and opting for many low-fat alternatives, then your carbohydrate intake (and possibly sugar intake) is going to dramatically increase. This is because many low-fat alternatives like low-fat yoghurts are pumped full of sugar to replace the fat and keep it tasting nice. This then limits your ability to burn fat, and prevents you from reaching your goals and getting that killer physique you are looking for.
What Are The Healthy Fats Then?
Saturated fats have been a very bad reputation recently and have thus been seen as something to avoid. However, despite being linked to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, this is only when consumed in very high quantities and is no reason for us to completely exclude such sources completely.
They are extremely useful at protecting our livers and enhancing our immune systems.
Here are some good sources:
High quality, naturally fed meat is a great source of saturated fats.
Whole eggs provide us with an abundance of antioxidants, and like other high fat dairy products are a great source of vitamin K and calcium. Everyone loves a bit of butter in their scrambled eggs right?
Coconut oil is a great alternative to other cooking oils. Just be careful when it comes to the amount you use, as it is very calorie dense.
Polyunsaturated fats are found in oils, nuts, seeds, fish and leafy green vegetables. The two types of polyunsaturated fats are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. The body cannot produce these fats and so they must come from the diet, hence they are essential fatty acids.
These types of fats are really useful when it comes to regulation of hormones, immune function, blocking of arteries and inflammatory responses.
Found in olive oil, nuts, dairy and animal meats. When it comes to keeping a healthy heart and low bad cholesterol levels in the body, then monounsaturated fats are crucial. A couple of servings of these a day are a great addition to your diet, hence why the Mediterranean diet is often speculated as being one of the healthiest diets worldwide due to its liberal content of olive oils and other fats of this type.
These are the bad, manmade fats of which are linked with heart disease, cancer and high cholesterol levels. These fats are found in highly processed foods with long shelf lives so cakes, pastries, pies and the like.
So, what is low fat/ high fat levels?
The UK Government guidelines suggest that no more than 11% of your daily diet should come from saturated fats no more that 30g for a man, 20g for a woman and less for children.
Then when assessing food labels…
High fat: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g
Low fat: 3g of fat or less per 100g, or 1.5g of fat per 100ml for liquids (1.8g of fat per 100ml for semi-skimmed milk)
Fat-free: 0.5g of fat or less per 100g or 100m.
So what are the benefits of fats?
They are the highest energy source at 9 kcal per gram. They line cell membranes. They provide the protective covering to our organs and hydrates the skin. They are also important for hormonal balance, need I go on.
So don’t be scared of including healthy fats into your diet.
No matter what your goals are they taste great and are vital as part of a balanced diet.