Yes, it’s ok to eat fat, in fact it’s important that you do eat fat, but what fats should we be eating?
Fats are vital for our bodies, They provide a rich source of energy (1g gives 9 kcal, compared to only 4 kcal per g of carbohydrate or protein) and they provide essential fatty acids such as omega-3’s which the body can’t make itself. Fat also helps the body absorb certain vitamins such as A, D, E and K which are vital for the body – without fat you can’t absorb these vitamins.
There are several types of fat – saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, there are also trans fats, but they all provide the same number of kcals. However they differ in their chemical structure and as such some can be more detrimental than others to our health. As they all contain the same number of calories, any type of fat, if too much is consumed can cause the body to store the excess energy as body fat.
Too much saturated fat or trans fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which, in turn, can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease. As part of a healthy diet, we should try to cut down on foods and drinks high in saturated fats and trans fats and replace some of them with unsaturated fats.
Saturated fats are found in processed meats like sausages, ham, burgers. Fatty meat. Hard cheeses including cheddar. Whole milk and cream. Butter, lard, ghee, suet, palm oil and coconut oil and trans fats, although found in small quantities naturally in meat and dairy products are more common in manufactured, particularly hydrogenated vegetable oils and are found in fried food takeaways, pastries, biscuits, and hard margarine. These types of trans fats have been shown to have a more serious impact on blood cholesterol levels than saturated fats. However, it’s worth noting that in the UK changes in manufacturing processes mean that these fatty acids are now removed from the fat spreads produced here so trans fat consumption in the uk is actually pretty low and well below the recommended limit.
Most foods contain a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fats but you can choose foods which are higher in unsaturated fats. These fats are high in the “good” cholesterol and can help to prevent heart disease. Foods high in monounsaturated fats include – Avocados, olives, olive oil, rapeseed oil. Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pistachios and spreads made from these nuts and polyunsaturated fats include oily fish, corn oil, sesame oil, soya oil, and spreads made from those oils. Flaxseed, pine nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.
Top tips to get more good fats
- On average have no more than 20g (women) – 30g (men) of saturated fat a day
- Wherever possible replace saturated fats with small amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
- Choose lean cuts of meat and trim off any excess fat
- Grill, bake or steam foods instead of frying them
- Drizzle walnut oil or good quality olive oil on your salads
- Eat oily fish like mackerel or salmon
- Sprinkle flaxseeds and nuts over your porridge
PS: See our article on heart health over here : DARLING MAGAZINE NORTH SURREY
This article is written by Dr Nancy Priston. Please remember, she isn’t a medical Dr, the information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your GP or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this site.