In the health and wellness industry fat is a big topic. Long gone are the days of low fat diets and it would seem that diets that focus on the consumption of good fats like Keto, Mediterranean and Paleo are here to stay. Why the change of heart when it comes to fat? Modern research indicates that fat has been widely misunderstood for years.
Breaking it Down
Not all fats are created equal and not all fat should be feared. There are three main types of fat: Saturated, Unsaturated, and Trans fats. We are going to get scientific to help break it down into more digestible pieces.
These are bad fats, the type of fats that you want to avoid. They cause heart disease, high cholesterol and obesity. Read more about why you want to avoid trans fats here. Here is where to find them: commercial baked goods, such as cakes, cookies and pies, shortening, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, refrigerated dough, such as biscuits and rolls, fried foods, including french fries, doughnuts and fried chicken, nondairy coffee creamer, and stick margarine.
These fats only have a single bond between carbon molecules and are solid at room temperature, unlike unsaturated fats, which are liquid at room temperature. There are different types of saturated fats depending on their carbon chain length, including short, medium, long, and very long-chain fatty acids — all of which have different effects on your health. Where to find saturated fats:
- Meats such as pork, beef, lamb, and poultry
- Coconut oil
For decades the low fat diet trends told people to avoid saturated fats, however, heart disease and obesity only increased during that time. The realization that has emerged is that saturated fats are not to blame. More recent study results show that ultra-processed, carb-rich, and sugary foods may pose more risks, aka trans fats.
3. Unsaturated Fats
Contain at least one double bond within their chain and they essential as your body does not produce them and they must be acquired through your diet. There are two types of naturally occurring unsaturated fats commonly found in diets and each has their own benefits and effects:
Monounsaturated – one fatty acid profile and one double bond
Consuming MUFAs can help protect against heart disease, insulin resistance, help the body process fats properly, improves your mood, improves bone strength, and may decrease cancer risk. Here are some of the best sources of MUFAs:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Nuts (peanuts, cashews and Almonds)
- Tea seed oil
- Red meat
Polyunsaturated – two different types of fatty acid profiles Omega 3s and 6s and more than 1 double bond
They are great for combating inflammation, and increasing over brain health and cognition. Here are some of the best sources:
- Pine nuts
- Fish (especially fatty fish like Salmon)
- Sunflower seeds
- Plant based oils (Omega 6s) – even Mayonnaise!
Good fats are also essential to help satiate our appetite because they’re digested more slowly than carbohydrates, they can help us stop over eating because they makes us feel fuller, longer. Coconut cream is great example low in sugar, full of antioxidants, and easily metabolized fatty acids. It is rich, filling and nutritious, coconut cream yogurt is a saturated fat that can be used to boost your breakfast routine, and can even be fermented at home and turned into yogurt by using your water kefir grains. Add it to your smoothies or granola yogurt bowl for a breakfast that will start your day in a healthy way, give your body a boost of live probiotics and keep you energized and focused.