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We tend to think that a low fat or fat-free diet is a healthy diet, however, you might already know that some fats are actually good for your body. 
 
They not only keep you healthy but have also been known to reverse several diseases and degenerative conditions and reduce the risk of heart disease.  
 
So you can probably call them essential, but it’s important to understand what fats are good and what fats are bad.  
 
But firstly, lets dive into… 

1. What is Fat? 

All fats are made of glycerol plus three fatty acids. The types of fatty acids that are joined to the glycerol backbone make the difference between good fats and bad fats. 
 
Fatty acids contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Carbon atoms can have single bonds or double bonds between them. 
 
If the carbons in a fatty acid have all single bonds (and no double bonds) among them, the fat is called saturated. These kinds of fats are typically solid at room temperature. Examples of saturated fats are cream, butter, and animal fat. 
 
If the carbons in the fatty acid have at least one double bond among them, the fat is called unsaturated. These kinds of fats are usually liquid at room temperature. Examples of unsaturated fats are vegetables oils. Unsaturated fats are ‘good’ fats. 
 
Unsaturated fats can be monounsaturated (one double bond) or polyunsaturated (multiple double bonds). 
 
If you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, it's best to reduce your overall fat intake and swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats. There is good evidence that replacing saturated fats with some unsaturated fats can help to lower your cholesterol level. 

2. Types of Healthy Fats 

Monounsaturated Fats 

Monounsaturated fats help protect your heart by maintaining levels of "good" HDL cholesterol while reducing levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol in your blood. 
 
Monounsaturated fats are found in: 
 
olive oil, rapeseed oil and spreads made from these oils 
avocados 
some nuts, such as almonds, brazils, and peanuts 

Polyunsaturated fats 

Polyunsaturated fats can also help lower the level of "bad" LDL cholesterol in your blood. 
 
There are 2 main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6. 
 
Some types of omega-3 and omega-6 fats cannot be made by your body. But these fatty acids perform very important functions in our body, therefore we must include them in our diet. That’s why they are called Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)… they are essential in our diet. 
 
Omega-6 fats are found in vegetable oils 
rapeseed 
corn 
sunflower 
some nuts 
 
Omega-3 fats are found in oily fish 
kippers 
herring 
trout 
sardines 
salmon 
mackerel 
 
Nuts and seeds 
chia 
hemp 
flax 
walnuts 
 

3. Why are Polyunsaturated fats important? 

Here are some reasons why these Essential Fatty Acids are so important: 
 
They are part of cell membranes throughout our body. They help maintain the fluidity of the membranes and are involved in the movement of substances in and out of our cells 
They are thought to be involved with the transfer of air in our lungs to our red blood cells 
They control growth, vitality, and mental state. They are involved in energy production mechanisms in our body. 
They are precursors of prostaglandins, some of which lower blood pressure, relax coronary arteries, and prevent blood clots 
They help with brain development 

4. How Much of These Fats Should I Consume? 

With a 2,000 calorie per day diet, about 20% of your calories should be fat. This means you should be eating about 11 teaspoons of fat per day.  
 
Out of your total fat intake, the following daily intake for the essential fatty acids is recommended: 
 
Omega-3 - about 2 teaspoons 
Omega-6 - about 3 teaspoons 
 
Most people have the right amount of Omega-6 in their diet as cooking oils used at home and in restaurants are rich in Omega-6. However, few of us consume enough Omega-3. 

In Summary 

Don’t be scared of fats! They have a healthy place in the diet. How much fat you should consume depends on your age, goals, weight, current body fat percentage, and health. But zero-fat is not a healthy way to reduce weight. Living a long, disease-free life requires the consumption of fat. 
 
Do not use hydrogenated vegetable oils. The chemical- and heat-based mass-production of these oils destroys nutrients and introduces toxins. These are known as trans-fats. 
 
Use either mechanically pressed virgin oils or saturated fats for cooking and for salad dressings. Virgin oils include olive oil and coconut oil. Other saturated fats for cooking are butter and ghee (clarified butter). 
 
Include rich sources of Omega-3 in your diet! 
Need Help?  
Talk to us about establishing a Nutrition Plan to help you meet your goals. 
Tagged as: dieting, Healthy Eating
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