Sunday, 30 January 2011

Does eating fat make you fat?

This may sound like an odd question, but does eating fat actually make you fat? Fat has always received bad press. Firstly, let’s have a look at the different forms of fat before we discuss this point further:

Mono-unsaturated Fat

This is the best of all fats, and should be included in your diet. It helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol.

Monounsaturated fat is believed to assist in the reduction of heart disease. It provides essential fatty acids for healthy skin and the development of body cells.

Monounsaturated fats are typically high in Vitamin E, the anti-oxidant vitamin which is usually in short supply in this country.

Mono-unsaturated fats we should include in our diet are Olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados.

Poly-unsaturated fat
Polyunsaturated fat is also healthy. It is also an essential element in our diet because polyunsaturated fat includes essential fatty acids called omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. The body cannot produce this itself.

Ideally, look for poly-unsaturated fats that contain omega-3, like flax oil, hemp oil, pumpkin seeds, walnuts or oily fish.

Polyunsaturated fat is also found in vegetable oils like safflower and sunflower.
Polyunsaturated fats have the same benefit as mono-unsaturated fats in the lowering of bad cholesterol. However, they also lower total cholesterol, which means the reduction of good cholesterol too. This is why Mono-unsaturated fats are perceived as a better source.
Saturated fat

Common sources of saturated fat include animal fats, butter, lard, red meat, poultry skin, cheese, cream and milk. Certain vegetable oils, like coconut and palm oil are also high in saturated fat.

Saturated fat has received a lot of bad press over recent years. However, a lot of the above examples are natural foods and are good sources of protein.  Gaining some of this fat from natural sources, won't lead to bad health. You cannot compare saturated fat found from an organic grass fed cow to saturated fat found in a processed beef burger. It is the processing that causes the problem. We have been eating saturated fat in its natural forms for thousands of years. I think we will see a u-turn in the information we have received on the subject in the near future!

Trans fatty acids
These are the worst of all fats and should be avoided at all costs.

Trans fats are chemically altered vegetable oils. They are produced artificially in a
process called hydrogenation which turns liquid oil into solid fat.
Trans fats can be found in thousands of processed foods from sweets and biscuits to ready meals. They are used because they are cheap, add bulk to certain foods and give products a longer shelf life. They have no nutritional value.

Trans fats have been linked to high cholesterol, which can lead to health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and infertility. Some nutritionists say that eating foods containing trans fat is similar to eating plastic.

Avoiding trans fats doesn’t need to be hard. Reduce any processed or refined food. This will not only reduce Trans fats but overall calories. Avoid ready meals, fast food, baked goods e.g. doughnuts and biscuits, and avoid products that list 'hydrogenated', 'partially hydrogenated' or 'shortenings' on the label. This all means Trans fat.

If a food is natural and if it was around a 1000 years ago then it won't include these fats! This is a great way to look at how healthy your diet is. How much of what you eat was around 1000 years ago? A topic for another time!!

So, back to the big question!

Fat does include calories, whether it is from any of the above forms. It contains 9
calories per gram, unlike protein (4 calories) and Carbohydrates (5 calories).
However, consumption of a healthy amount of the good fats (mono and poly), won’t lead to weight gain. Healthy fat is proven to speed up our metabolism and improve weight loss.  These fats will provide you with so many quality nutrients , that you will feel less hungry. A recent study showed that having an egg in the morning led to people consuming 20% less calories over the course of the day.

Fish, nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil are all important in your diet. Nuts and seeds are  fantastic for snacking on and for regulating blood sugar levels. Fish at meals times is fantastic and is actually one of the best ways to start the day.

An unhealthy lifestyle with over-consumption of high calorific foods and little exercise will lead to us storing fat. So the next time you go for the low-fat yogurt, ask yourself - what is wrong with the fat? Nothing.

Include healthy Fat in your diet.

→ Healthy fat will aid fat-loss by raising your metabolism and providing you with vital nutrients

→ Avoid man-made trans fats.

Posted by Oli

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