Cutting through the fat confusion

By
Annie Gibson
Added
28 October, 2015

Eating fat is important in keeping us sated, helping us absorb essential vitamins and assisting with healthy nerve and brain function.

Fat in the diet can be a pretty confusing topic. What was once considered the cause of weight gain and heart disease is now understood to be an essential part of our diet. Thankfully the 20th century message to fear fat in the diet is slowly dissipating, however the fat-free mindset is still ingrained in many of us. The abundance of low-fat and fat-free products staring down at us from the supermarket shelves can leave us questioning, which fats are ok to eat?  

Eating fat is important in keeping us sated, helping us absorb essential vitamins and assisting with healthy nerve and brain function. But not all fats are created equal, so it’s important we don’t start dipping our bacon in whipped cream and calling it a superfood. As a general guide, mono and poly unsaturated fats are the good ones, trans fats are bad, and saturated fats are in between.

Mono-unsaturated fats

Mono-unsaturated fats are found in foods such as avocados, nuts and olive oils. They are incredibly handy in the diet as they can assist with weight management by helping to keep us full. They also assist with insulin control and balancing cholesterol, minimising the risk of heart disease. An easy way to add some monounsaturated fats to the menu is Andy Harris’ chicken kebabs with spicy avocado dip.

Chicken kebabs with spicy avocado dip

Poly-unsaturated fats

Poly-unsaturated fats include omega 3 and omega 6. They are often referred to as “essential fatty acids” as our bodies cannot produce them, meaning they must be obtained from the food we eat. The essential fatty acids play an important role in inflammatory processes in the body, with omega-3 being anti-inflammatory and omega-6 being pro-inflammatory (important for immune response). Most people already have more than enough omega-6 in their diet but it is super important to maintain the right balance between it and omega-3. This will occur naturally if you eat wholefoods and limit your intake of processed foods, which tend to have higher levels of omega-6. A few wonderful sources of omega-3 are whole eggs and fatty fish, such as salmon – try Ben O Donohue’s poached eggs with salmon on potato pancakes.   

Potato pancakes with smoked salmon

Saturated fats

Saturated fats mainly come from animal sources, such as red meat, and are also found in coconut oil. This type of fat can be ok in moderation, but too much may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. A balanced diet consisting of a variety of wholefoods will help keep these levels in check.

Trans fats

Trans fats are the bad fats; they increase your risk of heart disease by simultaneously raising your LDL (bad) cholesterol whilst lowering your HDL (good) cholesterol. Trans fats are typically created via the industrial process of hydrogenation, which is used to solidify oils and prevent them from going rancid. These fats are found mainly in processed foods such as baked goods, potato chips, deep-fried foods and margarine.

So there you have it, fat from wholefood sources that have not been played with by technology is not only the kindest, it is also essential for our body to function happily and healthily. 

Annie is a budding nutritionist from Melbourne. Not only does she love all things health and wellness, she is also a foodie who believes we eat to nourish our mind, body and soul. Find Annie's recipe at www.nourish-d.com

    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again