For a long time fat has been labeled as the enemy. It was banished from our diets and many food companies began producing fat free or reduced fat products, merchandising them as the perfect solution. The problem with this fat free processed foods is that they have a lot of ingredients added to give them flavour, including sugar and fillers that can make you fat and unhealthy. This is why it is always better to stick to real foods with ingredients you know and can pronounce easily.
Fat plays an important role in our lives, the important thing is knowing which kind of fat to include in your diets. In this post I will share with you a small overview so you can make better and more informed choices in the future.
Some of the benefits of good fats are:
- It is a source of energy for most of our life functions. The body uses the fat we eat and fats we make from other nutrients in our bodies.
- Slows digestion and increases satiety.
- Healthier brains: Fat builds brains because it gives the structural components for cell membranes and myelin (the insulating barrier that surrounds nerves, enabling messages to travel faster.
- Helps with hormone imbalances: Fats regulate the production of sex hormones and are the structural components for substances such as prostaglandins (hormone-like substances that regulate many of the body’s functions).
- Healthier skin: A dry and flaky skin is a fatty acid efficiency symptom. Fat will give skin a healthy glow.
- Provides fat soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D & K are better absorbed with fatty food)
- Helps to strengthen bones because it helps with calcium absorption
- Protection against heart disease and lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad kind!)
- Increases HDL Cholesterol (The kind you want!)
- Promotes weight loss by helping the body burn fat
- Improves insulin sensitivity (a way of protecting us from diabetes)
- Enhance mood because it can trigger the neurotransmitter dopamine in the body, which signals happines into your brain.
They are usually derived from vegetables, nuts, seeds and oily fish. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are considered essential fats because the body can’t produce them, this is why we must incorporate them in our diet.
Monounsaturated fats: This types of fat are usually liquid at room temperature, such as extra virgin olive oil, olives, peanut oil, canola oil, avocado, nuts, eggs, peanuts and cashews.
Polyunsaturated fats: This types of fat are more solid than monounsaturated fats, but still become liquid when exposed to room temperature. It can be found in vegetable oils, including safflower, corn, sunflower, soy and cottonseed oils, as well as in nuts and seeds. This type of fats contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which are also essential to our brain and heart health. These can be found in flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found in full fat milk, meat, cream, butter and lots of processed foods. Even though some saturated fat it not bad for the body, the current diet habits usually contain too much of it and can be harmful for the body.
Trans fats are the most damaging of all fats because they are made through a process called hydrogenation which changes the structure of the molecules. Part of the problem with this kind of fat is that it is difficult for the body to metabolise and it is not a good source of energy. As a result, it can elevate your LDL cholesterol (bad) increasing your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, stroke or heart attack. Foods that contain trans fats include fried or battered food, margarine, shortening and most supermarket processed foods. They are also present naturally in foods such as in dairy and meat, but this is not a cause of concern if you do not exaggerate your portions.
Start introducing more healthy fats into your diet to get all the benefits your body needs. Here are a few delicious recipes that will help you to introduce more fats into your meals:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with avocado and toast
- Warm skillet and add ghee, butter, coconut oil or any oil of your choice.
- Optional: Add a few vegetables to the skillet: Onion and tomato are a perfect pair. Let them sauté for about 3 minutes
- Scramble two free range-organic eggs and add to the skillet.
- Take 1/2 of 1 ripe hass avocado and smash. Mix with salt and pepper and spread on a sourdough toast.
- Serve and enjoy!
Lunch or dinner: Vegetables with coconut yogurt
- Cut vegetables of your choice, the ones I really like to scramble into this recipe are: onion, red bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower and peas.
- Warm the skillet and add some coconut oil (You can use butter, ghee, grapeseed oil or any other oil of your choice).
- Let the onion sauté for about 3 minutes before introducing the rest of vegetables.
- If using, add chicken, tofu or monkfish.
- After you have sautéed all the vegetables, put the heat in low and add natural coconut yogurt (I use 125g of COYO).
- Add 2 teaspoons of cumin, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of turmeric and salt. Taste it and add more if needed. Optional: Add some curry paste.
- Serve and enjoy!
Snack: Tahini sauce with crudités
- Take 2 spoonfuls of tahini and put in a small bowl.
- Add the juice of 1 lime. Also add cumin, paprika and turmeric.
- Add a bit of hot water and stir. As you add water it will become creamier, but be careful of not putting too much so it doesn’t become too watery.
- Add more cumin, paprika and turmeric if needed.
- Take baby carrots and serve with the tahini.
Dessert: Almond butter with cocoa powder and brown rice syrup
- Take 2 spoonfuls of chunky Almond Butter (Sometimes I use Peanut Butter to change the taste)
- Add 1 spoonful of brown rice syrup.
- Add full fat cacao powder (Buy it as raw as you can, with no added sugars).
- Mix everything and enjoy! Optional: Spread it on a Buckwheat Banana bread if you want an ultra scrumptious dessert.