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Sarah Charsley April 2021

Good Fats, Bad Fats, Fat Facts

                                                   Is Fat good or bad?

Some people see fat as the bad boy on the dietary block, to be eliminated from our diet wherever possible. However, when it comes to your health there’s no escaping it.

Fat is essential

Dietary fats are essential for your body – it needs them for energy and structure. What’s important is knowing which ones to eat and which to avoid. Because here’s the thing: not all fats are equal. Some are harmful, others help to promote good health. So, if you’re going to drop the fat bomb, make sure you know which are the good guys!

What is DIETARY FAT and why do you need it?

Dietary fat is a macronutrient found in some of the foods we eat. It comes in the form of fats and oils. Whereas fats are solid at room temperature, oils are liquid. Both fats and oils are made up of chains of fatty acids.

Fatty acids consist of carbon atoms, all or most of which are bonded to hydrogen ions. Depending on the number of carbons, fatty acids can be either short chain, medium chain or long chain.

Reasons our body needs fat

 1. Fat is a major energy provider.

2. Fat is needed to build cell membranes and nerves.

3. Fat helps the body absorb various vitamins and minerals.

4. Fat is essential for blood clotting.

5. Fat is involved in triggering and reducing inflammation.

6. Fat can provide a feeling of fullness which helps regulate the release of food in the gut.Fat protects and cushions the internal organs.

6. Fat acts as a form of heat insulation.

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Given the important role that fats play in the body, you would be crazy to eliminate them from your diet. Even if you want to lose weight.  

Fat doesn't make you fat 

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn't – at least, it doesn't have to. As long as you’re eating the right types of fat, in the right amount, and as part of a balanced diet, you shouldn’t put on weight. In fact, some people find that the quickest and healthiest way to lose weight is to cut out carbs and replace them with healthy fats.

 By following a low-carb, keto-friendly way of eating, it’s even possible to fuel your body entirely on fat, so that your energy supply comes from ketones (made from stored and consumed fats) rather than glucose (see this blogpost for a 3-week guide to starting Keto).                     

You can cut out carbs for the rest of your life and be fine but not fat 

That’s right, you can never eat a single carb again and be absolutely fine. But cut out fat and you will struggle. It's possible to survive without fat, but there’s a reason bread and water was considered torturous prison food.                                                                                                

What are the different types of fats?

Saturated Fats:

Saturated fats are made up of stable chains of fatty acids, which means they won’t go rancid when exposed to heat or air.

They include: dairy foods such as butter, cheese and whole milk, fatty cuts of beef, pork, lamb, goose and duck, dripping, lard and ghee, coconut oil and palm oil.

Saturated fats have had a lot of bad press over years, with some studies suggesting a link between saturated fats and heart disease. However, more recent research has brought this link into question and many people today believe that a moderate amount of saturated fat can form part of a healthy balanced diet.  

Fat and bad press 

A 2015 article in the British Medical Review points out a number of trials and reviews that had been ignored or misreported by the committee behind the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans (which informs dietary guidelines worldwide) when it continued to promote the restriction of saturated fat.

For example, a controlled clinical trial by the Women’s Health Initiative of nearly 49000 women who had reduced their saturated fat intake, in fact showed no reductions in coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.

Nobody is saying you should start devouring mountains of butter or cooking with massive lumps of lard. Like most things in life, moderation is key. One saturated fat that has a myriad of potential health benefits is MCT Oil.

Unsaturated Fats

These fats are made up of wigglier, less stable chains of fatty acids. The ‘kink’ in their carbon armour means they can change form and become dangerous when heated.

Unsaturated fats are therefore best enjoyed cold-pressed (ie don't heat them up).

They include: Olive oil, flax oil, sunflower oil, walnut oil, pumpkin seed, rapeseed oil, fish oil.

Unsaturated fats can be Monounsaturated (MUFAs) such as Olive Oil and Peanut Oil. MUFAs are also found in: avocados, nuts and peanut and almond butter. Research consistently suggests that MUFAs are good for cholesterol and help prevent your risk of heart disease.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Also known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) because your body can’t make them, you can only get them from your diet.

They include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega 3 fatty acid, and linoleic acid (LA), an Omega 6 fatty acid.

Omega 3s have been shown to raise levels of good cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. You can get omega 3 fatty acids from:

salmon, herring, sardines, trout, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, canola oil.

Omega 3's can also have a beneficial effect on your skin, aiding your body's collagen production.

Omega 6 fatty acids are found in: tofu, soy, walnuts, seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin), vegetable oils (corn, sesame, sunflower), soft margarine.

There’s no such thing as vegetable oil 

We strongly advise against vegetable oil. Firstly what vegetable did it come from? None, it's corn oil. Secondly it's highly processed and can lead to inflammation. It might be cheaper but it's not a price worth paying. Lard is better or butter. Whether you are doing Keto or not, stay away from anything labelled vegetable oil or corn oil. 

TRANS FATS

Beware: this is fat enemy number one. Trans fat is an artificial byproduct of a process called hydrolisation which turns healthy oils into solids to stop them from going off – think spreadable margarine made from sunflower or olive oil.

Trans fats are neither wholly saturated or unsaturated, and are therefore subject to their own rules and behaviours.

Artificial trans fats have no known health benefits and are banned in a number of countries including the USA. Margarine was invented to feed the french army on the cheap.

As well as margarines and vegetable shortening, trans fats also feature heavily in ready meals and processed convenience foods. They are used for deep-fat frying in the fast food industry. 

You doughnuts, battered fish and fries and biscuits dripping in trans fat! 

Why are trans fats bad for you?

Whereas the health benefits and risks of other fats remain a grey area and are in need of future research, studies have continuously linked artificial trans fat to various health risks including: 

1. Increases in levels of bad LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.

2. Reduced amounts of good HDL cholesterol.

3. Inflammation, heart disease and stroke.

Trans fats can sneak into your food in the form of hydrogenated oils, which is why you should always read the ingredient list.

 Eating low-carb foods that contain a range of healthy fats can promote good health, help you lose weight and leave you feeling great. We recommend starting your day with a low-carb breakfast that is rich in healthy fats.

Our Keto Coffee contains butter and MCT oil and provides the perfect kickstart to your day. Combine it with a smoothie bowl topped with seeds, and nuts for that extra healthy fat fix. 

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References:

1. Teicholz Nina. The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: Is it scientific? British Medical Journal, 2015

2. A prospective study of trans fatty acids in erythrocytes and risk of coronary heart disease, Circulation, 2007

3. Health Effects of Trans Fatty Acids, experimental and observational evidence, EuropeanJournal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009.

4. Nutrition Brought to Life, Kirsten Chick, 2020.5. Good Fats, Bad Fats, Rosemary Stanton, 2002. 

Article credit : Sarah Charsley

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