When it comes to healthy eating, fats get a bad rap. Much of this is justified, as certain fats – like trans fats and saturated fats - are potentially harmful to your body.
But some fats are good for us. And knowing the difference will help you know which fats to avoid and which to enjoy more of.
Eat plenty of these - these are the real good fats! Liquid at room temperature, they turn solid when chilled, resembling bacon fat. Foods high in monosaturated fats (MUFAs) include olive oil, rapeseed and sunflower oils, avocados, nuts and seeds.
Research consistently shows that eating more monosaturated fats has a cholesterol-reducing effect and reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease. MUFAs are also linked to a decreased risk of breast cancer, weight loss and reduced belly fat. And they also tastes great!
People first realised MUFAs were good for us nearly fifty years ago with the Seven Countries Study. It showed that people living in parts of the Mediterranean had a lower rate of heart disease despite a low fat diet. But it wasn’t saturated fat, it was olive oil. The Mediterranean diet is now widely recognized as a healthy way to eat.
Plant-based oils and food are the main source of this fat. Think sunflower oil and corn oil, as well as salmon, nuts and seeds.
Polyunsaturated fats contain omega-3s and omega 6s. These are essential fats for our brain and body, but your body can’t make them by itself. So you have to eat food that contain them.
Omega 3s are found in oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, and lesser amounts in linseed oil and walnuts. Omega 3s help to prevent blood clotting, reduce blood pressure and regulate heart rhythm. They also boost brain health and help reduce inflammation.
Omega 6s are found in seeds and nuts, and the oil extracted from them. Its believed that many of us over-consume this fat, frequently found in snack foods. Getting the balance right between omega-3s and omega-6s is crucial. Using olive oil at home for cooking and salad dressings is a good way to improve the balance.
HOW TO EAT MORE HEALTHY FATS
I snack on nuts, seeds and raisins and really think this helps my health, and waistline too, as I just don't feel like eating anything else til mealtimes.
I make my own salad dressings with olive oil, and I actively look at wrappers to avoid transfats. Other than that, I don't care. I think people can get too concerned over fat balance. Just eat more good, and much much less bad.
good to know that my liberal use of olive oil is indeed doing me good. I think the trans fats come in the biscuits and cakes - completely cutting those out is probably pushing it but I am certainly putting them as treats, not snacks.