Dietary Fats are extremely important for cellular integrity, maintenance of the nervous system, brain function, heart and joint health. They are misunderstood because a lot of people are under the impression that is almost instantly stored as fat and people have noted how eating fat makes them fat. However, it’s more likely due to the fact fats are a lot more calorie dense for the volume of food they provide, for example if you were to fill a casserole dish up full of lettuce and other green veggies chances are the sheer volume of the veg would significantly fill you up and make it difficult to finish yet it will still only provide less than 150 calories whereas 2tbsp of olive oil wouldn’t even touch the sides yet this contains a substantial 240 calories, so you see my point and this is why it’s easy to over consume fat calories and get fat.
Unsaturated and saturated
All fats are made up of fatty acids and the fatty acid chain is made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The word saturated is used to describe a molecule that has no double bond separating the carbon chain, making a continuous carbon chain “saturated” with carbon atoms. Un-saturated refers to the molecule’s carbon chain being broken up or separated by one or more double bonds. The distinct difference between whether the fatty acid has one double bond or two or more double bonds will determine whether it is a mono-unsaturated fat, mono meaning one double bond, or a poly-unsaturated fat which refers to two or more double bonds. How the these fatty acids sit in their molecular structure will determine the way the are used and absorbed by the body. Their structure to put it simply, will determine whether they are good or bad fats, healthy or unhealthy. This is why it’s important to understand the chemistry behind these molecules…. science lesson over… for now
You will always generally find foods that contain both poly and mono fats, the real key is just reading the label and leaning towards the foods with a higher mono fat content…
Mono meaning one, give’s indication to that fact they have only 1 carbon double bond, this is a good source of fat and should make up most of your fat intake. Mono-unsaturated fats will give a whole host of benefits to your heart, brain, cognitive function, immune system and your hormonal system while decreasing LDL and increasing HDL, double win! These should be the bulk of your fat intake.
good sources are…
- olive oil/olives
Poly-unsaturated fats are what should make up less then half of your total fat intake day as they are in my opinion the third best source of dietary fat for health (1st being omegas-3’s, 2nd being mono fats). Reason they are third is because poly-unsaturated fat despite them bringing bad LDL cholesterol down (low density lipoproteins) they also tend to bring good HDL cholesterol down too (high density lipoproteins) unlike mono-unsaturated fat that will actually bring bad LDL cholesterol down and increase good HDL cholesterol levels. So they are still good as a lower bad LDL levels are good regardless, but you do want to keep a good HDL level too, so make these fats a slightly smaller proportion of fat intake than your mono-unsaturated fat intake.
- oily fish
So if you’re a good reader and a quick learner then you’ll know that the chain of mono and poly-unsaturated fatty acids are separated by 1 or more double bonds, but with saturated fats there is no double bond separating the chain of carbon atoms so the chain is said to be saturated with carbon atoms…
Essential fats are…. Essential
Essential fats cannot be produced by the body so our body relies on us to seek them out through diet. Don’t be roped into this low fat fallacy that many people still innocently follow today. Omega 3’s, 6’s and 9’s are extremely important for brain and heart health but many people obtain inadequate amounts. These essential fats will all assist in the partitioning of nutrients to help build muscle instead of fat and will aid in fat burning. They act as anti-inflammatories and provide the joints with lubrication, without eating them through diet or even through supplementation you are robbing your body of it’s needs and health.
There are certain fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A,D,E,K that can be stored in the body but require the consumption of fat with them so they can be absorbed properly, without fat the body will struggle to absorb them, this is why its recommended you take food with multivitamins so that the fat soluble vitamins are absorbed. These vitamins can be stored in our fat and liver but be careful not to over consume these vitamins, particularly vitamin A as excess amounts have been fatal in fact there is enough vitamin A in a polar bears liver to kill a man, but il save that for another page.
As long as you eat the right types of fats and and are aware of your total calorie intake eating fat will not only benefit your health but some will actually help you burn more fat. When fats are consumed they are broken down into fatty acids and glycerol molecules which help keep a healthy metabolism and nervous system. Include healthy fats in your diet on a daily basis this is easily done by eating some form of oily fish every other day, eating mixed nuts, cooking with canola or olive oil. By doing so it will help give you your essential fats, some minerals and also vitamins A, D, E and K to maintain optimum heart, brain and joint function, you will also get additional benefits such as good bone health, good circulation, cardio-vascular health, good eyesight, hormonal health and general health. Be aware that its calories that make you fat not healthy fats, they are essential so get them in!
These should be a big focus aiming to eat omega-3 foods every other day, I however like to consume small amounts of omega-3 & 6 fats everyday by eating linseeds and other seeds
good sources of essential fats are…
- flaxseeds/linseeds/chia seeds
Fats are good to eat in small amounts
As I said some fat’s must be eaten for the normal functioning of the body and organs but saturated fats are the type of fats that can be kept low. They usually set hard at room temperature or leave a transparent stain on paper but generally speaking animal fats, full fat cream, milk, margarine, butter and fats of that nature should be kept an eye on. Although responsible for many cardio-vascular health problems when over consumed, eaten in small amounts will actually be beneficial (for guys in particular) as this will encourage higher testosterone levels due to the cholesterol, but of course stuff your face full of foods rich in saturated fat on a regular basis and the expansion of your waistline will be the least of your worries…