Written By: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc Nut, Adv Dip Nut Med)
Not to be feared! Yes, there are an overwhelming variety of different types of fats & oils but by choosing the right kinds you can open yourself up to a whole host of health benefits!
To put simply, eating the right fats will help:
Keep your skin glowing
Support immune system
Optimise gut health and digestion (our gut bugs ‘feed’ on unabsorbed lipids in the colon)
Improve sleep quality
Brain growth & development (therefore being essential for babies, children, pregnant & breast feeding women)
The absorption of certain vitamins (known as your ‘fat soluble vitamins’) these are vitamins A, D, E and K
Maintain heart health - reduce risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome
Keep bones strong through calcium absorption
Synthesise hormones, cholesterol & vitamin D
Insulation and protection
Keep you feeling full and reducing unwanted cravings
Help with weight loss – yes weightLOSS (the right fat does NOT make you fat)
AND, give the best flavour to your foods!
A basic breakdown of fats
You’ve got your saturated fats – solid at room temp, these are stable and not effected by oxidative damage causing free radicals, this makes them great uses for cooking at higher temps. Animal fats, full fat dairy, coconut oils, butter and lard all fall into this category.
Unsaturated fats are your monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fats are more unstable and can be oxidised, creating an inflammatory oil. These are liquid at room temp and include vegetable oils, canola oils and margarine.
Monounsaturated fats include things like olive oil and flaxseed oil. These are anti-inflammatory, containing high amounts of your omega 3 fats (these fats are essential fatty acids as they cannot be made in the body and therefore needed to be consumed through foods).
Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are these essential fats we need through diet. However, we need these in a correct ratio (3:1). The standard westernised diet is loaded with omega 6 fats, and yes these are still required in the body for many processes, but in such a large number are created much more inflammation and other conditions than we need. Reducing omega 6 intakes (from grains, animal meats that were fed grains and corn) and increasing omega 3’s from oily fish (salmon, sardines), chia seeds, walnuts, olive oils, avocado, flaxseeds, organic eggs and meat to get our ratio right!
My diet personally is made up of omega 3 fats, some monounsaturated (think olive oils, walnuts, oily fish, avocado, chia seeds etc) & saturated fats *pours coconut oil over entire life*.
Saturated fat sources are from organic and sustainable meats, where possible, from local farmers. This is purely because the animals aren’t living in such a stressed state, are free from hormones & antibiotics as well as being raised on their correct diets, and not force fed fattening, inflammatory grains (creating more omega 6 fats). Plus, local support, having built that relationship with the farmer and seeing their business flourish is a good thing!
Unsaturated fats from vegetable oils, canola oil or margarine should not be included in the diet. These are processed, bleached, hydrogenated, inflammatory and artificial to the body – trans fats cannot be metabolised by our bodies, they are foreign, man made products that are rancid and increase free radical production when heated – these are to be avoided, thankfully now more & more people are coming to learn and be educated on the issues around margarine (which contains trans fats) & GMO foods and better choices are coming from this – swapping back to the butter as our grandparents did!
How to get your fats right
Eat whole-foods, in their natural state. Using unsaturated fats at cool/low/room temps, cooking with saturated fats - using butter or coconut oil to flavour your vegetables, making fresh foods more flavoursome. Snacking on raw nuts and seeds, or sprinkling them over foods. By avoiding processed foods and packaged ‘convenience’ foods you will drastically reduce your exposure and intake to inflammatory fats and oils and will see a massive improvement in overall health, with increased omega 3s!
Think ‘SLOW foods’: Sustainable, Local, Organic & Whole
For more guidance please feel free to reach out to me.
Yours in health,