For decades we’ve been bombarded with mixed messaging when it come to eating fat, causing confusion as to whether we should be including fats in our diet or whether we should be avoiding fats at all costs. 2016 saw the National Obesity Forum (NOF) and Public Health Collaborative (PHC) urging that an overhaul of the UK's official dietary guidelines is a necessity. Most interestingly was the central message, that “eating fat does not make you fat”.
In an attempt to follow low-fat diets, we have turned to foods riddled with ‘hidden’ sugar and refined carbohydrates, causing us more harm than good. Refined carbs (think white rice, white bread, white pasta etc.) contribute to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and so on. Put simply, sugar is more harmful to our health, not to mention contributing to our expanding waistlines and national obesity epidemic.
So here’s the low-down - your body needs fat. Fact.
It is a vital source of energy that helps absorb vitamins and minerals. Fat is needed to build cell membranes, the exterior of each cell and the sheaths surrounding nerves. It is also essential for muscle movement, inflammation, good hair, skin and nails.
As you may know there are good fats and bad fats. Good fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, bad fats include industrial-made trans fats and saturated fats fall somewhere in the middle.
But let's focus on how good are good fats.
The good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels whilst also providing us with essential fatty acids like omega-3. We've put together 7 sources of healthy fats below, which can easily be included in your diet:
Avocado, we love avocados, not only are they an excellent source of healthy fat, they also help our bodies to absorb other nutrients more efficiently.
Nuts, all nuts contain a dose of fat but walnuts come out top.
Coconut Oil, see our article on why coconut oil is so good for us.
Oily fish, like salmon and mackerel, are packed full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid.
Seeds such as chia seeds and flaxseed are perfect for sprinkling over breakfasts, salads and soups.
Dark chocolate, yet another source of healthy fat, is also loaded with minerals and is a powerful source of antioxidants. Better yet look out for raw cacao powder.
Eggs are the perfect start to the day, for boosting healthy fat and protein intake.
Yet, as with most things there’s a catch… for example many of you health gurus love ‘smashed avo’ on toast, well, this is where one must be mindful. An average avocado weighing 200g contains more than 300 calories. This is absolutely fine as the main component to a meal, but if this is a daily snack, this healthy fatty food could be doing more harm than good, as the daily calorie intake is most likely to be exceeded. Male average calorie intake per day: 2,500 and female average calorie intake per day: 2,000 (NHS, 2014)
Advice: Eat good fats in moderation!