Learning to separate the guilty culprits from the innocent suspects is essential when it comes to learning which fats to eat and which to avoid.
Unfortunately, like most nutritional categories, healthy fats have fallen victim to their counterpart’s bad reputation and now we’re all a bit confused by exactly how fats can be good for you and where we can find them.
In this blog post, I will help you discover the benefits of eating more healthy sources of fat and why you should be including them in every meal.
1. Slows the release of sugar
Just like fibre and complex carbohydrates, fats also slow down the release of sugar from the food you consume. High-fat foods help to slow the rate of digestion from stomach to intestines where nutrients (like glucose) are absorbed.
Including a healthy source of fat in your meals can help to reduce the glycaemic load of your meal and avoid blood sugar spikes, reduce cravings and increase satiety.
2. Which are good? Which are bad?
Defining good and bad sources of fat has been a subject of complexity and controversy for many years. One way of drawing the line is by considering whether the source is pro- or anti-inflammatory. We do actually need both, but in the modern diet we consume approximately 10-20 times more pro-inflammatory foods than anti-inflammatory. Such an imbalance can cause chronic, sustained inflammation which is in turn linked to an increased risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Examples of Anti-inflammatory Fats:
- Fatty Fish
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Omega 3 and Omega 6 are two essential fatty acids which are critical for our health. Unfortunately, we can’t create these fats by ourselves, so we need to source them from our food. This is a great example of balancing the pro- and the anti-inflammatory foods in your diet; Omega 6 is pro-inflammatory and Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory. In the right ratio, they serve a purpose to keep your body healthy, in excess, they can cause serious health issues.
The problem with the Western diet is that we consume far too much Omega 6-rich foods, which is largely down to the excessive use of industrial seed and vegetable oils. These are normally created to achieve a high yield using extremely high temperatures and chemicals which change the molecular structure of the oil, creating free radicals and trans fats which are toxic to our bodies. These oils are found in cooking oils like sunflower oil, vegetable oil and most processed foods.
To avoid an inflammatory diet and its repercussions, try to reduce the amount of processed food you consume and switch your cooking oil to butter, ghee, avocado and coconut oil. Also, aim to eat plenty of foods rich in Omega 3 to balance your Omega 6 intake; salmon, mackerel, sardines, flax seeds, chia seeds, and a good quality cod liver oil supplement are all great sources. However, be careful not to over supplement with Omega 3 supplements in order to counteract excessive Omega 6 consumption. Too much of both can also be problematic.
Dietary fats play an essential role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In the right proportions and with the right knowledge of where to find these healthy sources, fats can help your body absorb nutrients, produce and regulate hormones, keep you fuller for longer and help your energy levels.
Need some more guidance? You can download my food swaps for smarter fat choices here!