Fats: the not so ugly truth

In the past, fats have had a bit of a bad rap..

However, what some people don't know is that they are crucial to our health, brain and many systems in our body. Fats can be a key staple for weight loss and support your Integumentary system (supporting beautiful skin!). As you will soon find out not all fats are bad and some and extremely important for your health!

To clear the air, here are the four basic groups of fats:

Monounsaturated fats 

These fats are beneficial and should be added to the diet! They reduce blood clotting, gallstone formation, reduce the risk of heart disease and improve memory function! Monounsaturated fats are also important for weight loss. Studies show that by swapping saturated fats for monounsaturated fats in your diet can result in a loss of body fat and weight loss without having a drastic change on total fat and kilojoule intake. Food sources of monounsaturated fats are: pecans, cashews, avocados, olives and macadamia nuts and oils.

Polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 and omega 6)

Polyunsaturated fats contain Linoleic acid and Alpha-linoleic acid which are essential and are not made by the body, this is why it is integral to include food sources containing omegas 6 and 3 in your diet.

Omega 3's are important for the brain, heart and decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease. Omega 6 are an essential fatty acid and important for hormone production, reproductive health and bone health. However, it is important to note that balancing your omega 3 and 6 intake is important. Make sure you don't over consume too many omega-6's as they can already be found in grains and processed foods, whereas omega 3's can be consumed daily for health benefits.

Food sources of Omega 3's include: flaxseed oil (which is a great vegetarian/vegan source of polyunsaturated fats), salmon, blackcurrant seed oil, pumpkin seeds, sardines and walnuts. Omega 6 can be found in foods such as: walnuts, safflower seeds, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower oil, evening primrose oil, black currant oil.

Saturated fats

Saturated fats are important to keep in the diet as they help with the production of cell membranes, however, should be eaten in moderation and only take up 10 percent of daily energy intake. Better options of saturated fats are to opt for grass-fed organic meats and virgin coconut-oils. Food sources include: Butter, milk, pork, beef, chicken skin and cheese.

Trans fats 

These fats should be avoided or kept to a minimum. The maximum intake should be only 1 percent of total daily energy intake, according to the World Health Organisation. Trans fats may increase the risk and lead to heart disease, thrombosis, coronary heart disease and raised levels of LDL cholesterol. There are no safe levels of man-made trans fats, and although some may be naturally occurring, most are made by partial hydrogenation which rearranges the hydrogen atoms in unsaturated fats. Trans fats can be found in: cakes, pastries, burger buns, cookies, chips, microwave popcorn, donuts, chicken nuggets, fries and fried foods.. just to name a few.

The recommended daily intake of fats for adults should make up 20-35% of your total energy intake. It is important to eat 'healthy fats' which include monounsaturated fats (help stabilise blood sugar levels) and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 and 6) as these fats provide amazing health benefits and will nourish your body, skin, hair, nails, eyes, brain function, memory and aid weight loss. Fats found in whole foods and plant sources are the best fats for your body.

On the other hand, consume a less amount of saturated fats and avoid trans fats or limit to 1 percent of your daily kilojoule intake as they will provide you with minimal health benefits and only increase your risks of disease.