How many good fats can you name? How many of these do you eat regularly?!
Good fats are a buzz word right now and there is a lot of focus on including them in our diets. Social media is full of recipes for chia puddings and avocado chocolate mousse but realistically we cant be whipping these up every day!
We need a regular supply of good fats to keep us healthy so we need to find easier ways to incorporate them into our daily diet.
I try to include as many different good fats into my diet as possible – while also in moderation. Good fats are still high in calories so if you eat too much you will put on weight!.Knowing the recommended portion sizes is important – more about that to follow.
Good fats have so many benefits and I have really noticed these since I started making them a regular part of my own diet. They moisturise your skin and hair from the inside (better than a face cream ever will!), keep you feeling fuller for longer, make you feel more satisfied after a meal (so you’re not craving other stuff) and speed up your metabolism (so that you actually burn off more fat).
If you restrict fat too much your metabolism will slow down and your body will actually try to store fat because it reverts to famine mode. Not what you want!AND when you start to eat normally again…your metabolism has slowed down and won’t burn calories as effectively.Eating good fats keeps your metabolism revved up and in prime fat burning mode.When people ask me about my diet I always tell them that I eats lots of good fats (I do exercise as well) and that I haven’t put on weight because of this.I can also see a difference in my skin.
Good fats also have a huge impact on your brain and your mood in general which has been a big thing for me as I have suffered from anxiety. As a result am now really mindful of how my diet can help or hinder me in this area.Getting my omega 3 and good fats will always be a huge priority for me in looking after my mental health.
So we have established that good fats are just great – sothen why aren’t more people eating them?!
I think the main things that prevents people eating more good fats are:
1) Confusion over which fats are actually the ‘good’ ones!
2) An over-reliance convenience foods that do not contain good fats!
3) A view that good fats can’t taste that good or are boring
4) Being stuck in a food rut and not knowing how to incorporate good fats into their everyday diet
So firstly…the bit that will bring you back to home economics class! I’ll keep this very simple…
Good fats come in two forms – polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.
- Polyunsaturated fats are mainly found in plant foods and have been proven to decrease the risk of heart disease. They are found in foods like flax seed, walnuts and mackerel.
- Monounsaturated fats have a slightly different chemical composition to polyunsaturated fats (the sciencey bit!) and are found in olive oil,hazelnuts.
Its best to try and include a mix of these in your diet so try and vary it up when you can. This will ensure you get the different nutrients that different foods provide.
Good fats provide omega 3, 6 and 9 which we know are important for our health.However most of us actually consume enough or even too much omega 6 & 9 and not enough omega 3.That’s because our own bodies produce omega 9 and omega 6 is found in common foods like meat, eggs and dairy.
Omega 3 is only found in a certain few foods such as flax seed, oily fish and walnuts. It cannot be manufactured by the human body so if you don’t eat any of these regularly you could easily be deficient.
The best way to avoid this is to take a good quality omega 3 supplement every day.
There is some debate on whether we need to take supplements if we are eating healthily but nearly all experts agree that most of us don’t get enough omega 3 naturally through our diet.
Omega 3 deficiency can cause a lot of health issues from increased anxiety and depression to dry skin and joint problems so if there’s one supplement that I would recommend for everybody across the board it’s this.
If you find it hard to remember to take supplements try leaving it somewhere prominent like in your handbag or set an alarm for the same time each day. Look for supplements with a high level of EPA/DHA as this means they are better quality and much more effective in terms of their benefits.
For optimum health and mental well-being it is recommended we take in 1000mg of EPA/DHA a day. This might sound complicated but it basically just means checking the packaging and making sure that the EPA/DHA level is as close to this as possible! That way you can be sure you are buying a good quality supplement.
No matter how busy we are I think we can all manage to take one or two capsules a day! It’s an easy way to make a big difference to your health.
When it comes to the ‘bad fats’ these come under two headings:
- Saturated fats
These raise cholesterol and contribute to heart disease. They also caught weight gain if activity does not exceed the amount you consume. Examples of saturated fats are cheese,meat (like pork) and cream.
- Trans fats
These are the worst fats you can eat and have been linked to many diseases from alziemers to infertility.Unlike saturated fats which occur naturally (for example in animal foods like cream), trans fats are ‘manufactured’ fats hence why they are described as the worst fats you can eat. If you eat doughnuts, croissants, crisps you will unfortunately be consuming trans fats..!
Most processed meals or snacks will not contain good fats. Foods like butter, pasta sauce, cheese and chocolate contain saturated fats or hydrogenated (trans) fats.These are OK to include in moderation, along with activity, but if you are serious about healthy eating you should try to cut them out of your diet as much as possible.
They contribute to weight gain and disease and don’t have any of the same health benefits that good fats do.There are many good fats that you can substitute for bad fats (for example using olive oil on bread instead of butter) so it’s just a matter of becoming aware and making some small changes in your diet! Make one substitution at a time and it won’t be a big effort.
The best way to ensure you get more good fats into your diet is to make as much of your meals yourself so that you can substitute the fat for good fat. Meals or treats made with good fats can taste just as good – they just take a bit more effort!When you make your meals from scratch you will still be using fat – but you will know it’s the good kind.
Once you are aware of all the benefits of good fats you will find yourself wanting to increase these in your diet. It’s not a case of depriving yourself…just thinking outside the box a little when it comes to planning your meals! Once you put a bit of thought into it there are easy ways you can include them.
In my next blog post I will give three suggestions for easy ways to get more good fats into your diet.
But that’s probably enough information to ‘digest’ for now!
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