If you keep up with the latest diet news you are probably reading this article headline with a confused look on your face? Surely fat’s not healthy is it? Well actually it is.
You need fat to survive and just because it is named fat it doesn’t necessarily mean it will make you fat. In this article, I will be explaining how eating more fat can actually make you healthy in the New Year and providing you with some top tips to get more fat in your diet.
Are Fats Healthy?
Everywhere you go you are bombarded with the message that fat is bad for you. Adverts on TV and in the press are constantly praising their products for being just 1% fat. Even the USDA dietary guidelines emphasize the importance of fat free or low fat milk products as part of a healthy diet.
Now there is some logic behind these claims. At 9 calories per gram fat contains more than twice the calories of carbohydrates and protein which come in at 4 calories per gram each. This makes it a lot easier to overindulge on fats.
However, it does not make fats unhealthy. In fact studies into the health benefits of dietary fats have thrown up a long list of health boosting properties. Fats can help you absorb essential nutrients, keep your cells and vital organs in full working order, protect against a wide range of diseases and much more.
Are All Fats Equal?
Fat is actually a blanket term that describes four different types; saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and trans fat. The first three are natural fats that can be found in animal and plant based foods whilst trans fats are dangerous man made fats that often get added to unnatural processed products such as biscuits, cakes and crisps.
For a long time saturated fat was the villain of the piece and associated with chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. However, more recent research suggests that saturated fat may not be as bad as everyone believes. In fact other fats may be the cause of these health problems.
My personal take on fats (as with everything else when it comes to nutrition) is that you should pick natural and avoid man made as much as possible. That means trans fats should be avoided completely whilst saturated fats and monounsaturated fats should be included in your diet.
Polyunsaturated fats are a little more tricky. Although they come from natural products some of them are highly processed. For example, vegetable oil is a polyunsaturated fat that comes from vegetables but it is so highly processed that it cannot be considered a natural fat. So when picking your polyunsaturated fats make sure they are all natural.
How Can You Eat More Natural Fats?
Eating more natural fat is really easy. All you need to do is stop buying the low fat products and embrace the full fat versions. Here are a few pointers to help you out:
1) Fill Up On Animal Fats For Saturated Fat:- Animal fats such as dairy and meat are loaded with saturated fat. Start using butter instead of margarine, go for regular cuts of meat instead of low fat versions and have full fat cheese instead of tasteless low fat cheese.
This may go against everything you think is right but what would you rather put in your body? A natural fat that animals give to their offspring (milk and dairy based products) or an artificially created fat that is full of chemicals (margarine, low fat cheese etc).
2) Fill Up On Nuts And Olive Oil For Monounsaturated Fats:- Nuts are a fantastic snack that can easily be substituted into your diet in place of a chocolate bar or a bag of crisps. Dried fruit, especially no-added sugar dried cherries, is an excellent choice, too. Mix cashews, almonds, no-added sugar dried cherries for a tasting and healthy snack.
Olive oil is also a great ingredient that can be drizzled on salads or added to your cooking. Incorporating these two foods into your diet can greatly increase your intake of monounsaturated fats.
3) Fill Up On Oily Fish For Polyunsaturated Fats:- Oily fish are a brilliant source of polyunsaturated fats. Eat them at least twice a week and you will boost your polyunsaturated fat levels.
Training yourself to eat more fat is difficult. The message that fat is bad gets deeply ingrained into our brains from a very early age. However, fat is actually an essential nutrient that we need to survive and it also promotes optimal health. If you don’t believe me just look at populations around the world for proof.
The French consume lots of saturated fats but have relatively low rates of heart disease. The Mediterranean diet is relatively high in fat but people who follow it are much less likely to develop cancer and heart disease. So make this New Year the healthiest one yet by ditching the processed foods and eating more healthy, natural fats.