As I’ve mentioned before, I hit a low point in my life where I lost too much weight. I was boney, drawn and pale. A key issue (as pointed out by my sister) was my lack of fats in my diet. Unfortunately, I had fallen victim to the villainisation of fats in the media. All the hype about having a low fat diet to be healthy had more of an effect than I’d realised and I had not only reduced by intake of saturated fat, but of the healthy fats my body needs to function properly. So, let’s take a look at fats.
This is considered as something we should try cut down on. Recently, there’s been stories flying around the media about saturated fat is actually not as bad as previously thought. Saturated fat has forever been associated with weight gain and is found in processed foods, meats, butter, cheese, cream and confectionary. We’re always told not to eat too much. For example, the British Dietic Association recommends no more than 30g per day for males and no more than 20g per day for females. Whilst there are numerous opinions regarding saturated fats and the negative health implications high consumption has, there is no sound, scientific evidence supporting them.
I view saturated fats as something to consume in moderation. I can enjoy a cheeseburger once in a while, or a chocolate bar but not four. I think more research needs to be done into saturated fats, especially whether there is a causal relationship between high consumption and disease.
Please do not take this as an excuse to chow down on fatty meats and not be concerned about putting on weight. Fats are high in calories, and excessive consumption may lead to unhealthy weight gain! Also fatty deposits in your arteries.
Another fat not to indulge excessively in. This type of fat is found naturally (in low levels) in meat and dairy products and found in foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oil. There are associations between trans fats and raised cholesterol, so it is recommended nt to consume more than 2g per day (for an adult). Good news is a lot of food manufacturers have removed hydrogetaed vegetable oils from products, so we don’t actually consume a lot of it!
We like this one, we need this one. These are the healthy fats found in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. They’re categorised as mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated. These provides our bodies with nutrient for basic function. Eating these fats can also help lower bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol. It also helps you from looking like a gaunt ghostly character (as I discovered).
Fat, like carbohydrates and proteins, should be an integral part of our diet. The key is balance. You need to try maximise your intake of unsaturated fats and limit your intake of saturated/trans fats. It’s better for your health to consume 200 calories of nuts than it is of chocolate, so try and make healthy choices that help try maintain this balance. Ofcourse, don’t cut the “bad” fats out completely, have a cookie or a chocolate bar or a burger but try maintain a balance. It’s all about moderation.
Also, remember fats are high in calories, so watch portion sizes even with the unsaturated fats. Too many calories means weight gain and that can be unhealthy in some circumstances, especially if it is excessive weight gain.
Here are some healthy snacks with healthy fats that I enjoy;
- Avocado on wholegrain toast
- A handful of mixed nuts and seeds
- Olive oil based dressings
A firm family favourite is simple 2 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar, clove of garlic (not peeled or chopped but lightly squashed) and pepper
Just keep it in balance and try get a wide, varied diet to ensure you get all your nutrients for a healthy lifestyle! Simples. (I wish)