How Fat Can Be Your Friend
Grow Talk by Sofy Robertson
Many of us will still be slogging away with our New Year’s resolutions as we enter mid-February, the majority of which revolve around changes to our diet and exercise regimes. Thus the word ‘fat’ will immediately bring negative connotations; clogging our arteries, raising our blood pressure, found in delicious but evil junk food and so on. We have long been educated that fat is bad and that it is one of the greatest contributors to the obesity epidemic and heart disease, but we cannot tarnish all fats with the same brush.
Healthy fats, which, granted, sounds like a complete oxymoron, are an essential part of our diets and are crucial to our overall health. Demonising all fat is just as likely to lead to malnutrition and health problems. Nutritionist Tamar Samuels explains:
“We’ve finally started to recognize that certain fats are actually beneficial for weight loss, heart health and balancing hormones.” (Huffington Post)
Recently, Grow Talk wrote about the Mediterranean Diet, a healthy lifestyle that recognises the daily need to consume healthy fats in the form of foods such as oily fish, nuts and olive oil. The reality is, all diets should involve healthy fats in order to promote heart health.
Why Some Fats Are Your Friends
The NHS explains:
“A small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, which the body can’t make itself.
Nutritionist Samuels goes into greater depth, explaining:
“Fats insulate our organs and serve as structural components of our cells. It also supports immune function, helps to regulate our body temperature, maintains healthy skin, hair and nails. Other fats serve as a building block for creating hormones.” (Huffington Post)
Author of Ketotarian and functional medicine expert, Will Cole, added that consuming certain fats is also crucial for blood sugar balance and will avoid the dreaded ‘hangry’ outbursts:
“Even though our bodies can use glucose as fuel, they burn it off quickly leaving us on a blood sugar roller coaster ― constantly ‘hangry’ and searching for our next fix with out-of-control blood sugar and a multitude of metabolic and other health problems.”
So How Much Fat Is Too Much Fat?
The NHS has found that, overall, people in the UK eat too much saturated fats. These are the fats found in fatty meat, butter, cheese, cream, chocolate, biscuits, cakes, pastries and palm oil to name a few.
They recommend that men should not have more than 30g of saturated fat a day and women should have no more than 20g.
The NHS recommend cutting back on overall fat intake and swapping saturated fats for unsaturated fats, which are found in foods such as vegetable oils, oily fish, nuts, whole eggs and avocadoes.
Know Your Good Fats From Your Bad
So, in a nutshell, it is the saturated fats that we need to cut back on in our diets. That isn’t to say that you can never have butter in your sandwich and that you need to call for a blanket ban on biscuits in the office. The NHS guidance is to be aware of what we are consuming and cut back on these ‘bad’ fats whilst ensuring we still get those ‘healthy’ saturated fats in our diet.
To help us make healthier choices, the NHS have an Eatwell Guide as well as a Be Food Smart app to help you compare products and make informed choices on the food you are consuming.
So, for all you avocado fans out there who have been accused of being a trendy hipster, you can fill your trolley in peace knowing that you’re promoting heart health and not just following a fad.