Let’s talk healthy fats.
So, are fats actually good for anything?
Short answer: yes! Fats are used by the body’s cells and as fuel for the body. Fats are super important in helping the body absorb vitamin A, D, E and K. In fact, these vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning they can only be absorbed with the help of fats. They are also important as building blocks for hormones and to build nerve tissue in the brain and nerves.
A small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, which the body cannot make itself. Fat that is not used by our body is converted into body fat. So keep in mind, that while we do need healthy fats for our cells and as fuel, fats, per gram, are higher in energy compared to other food groups. So, we shouldn’t be over-consuming fats – even when they’re healthy.
Which ones are the healthy fats?
When we talk about fat in food, we are talking about two types of fat: saturated fats and unsaturated fats.
SATURATED fats are the BAD type of fats.
UNSATURATED fats are the GOOD type of fats.
Let's repeat together: saturated, bad. Unsaturated, good.
Now, most fats contain both saturated and unsaturated fats, but in different proportions. As part of a healthy lifestyle, we should cut down on foods and drinks that are high in saturated fats and replace them with food that are high in unsaturated fats.
Unsaturated fats (the good type)
So, there are two types of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated and poly unsaturated. And believe it or not, these healthy fats help protect your heart.
Monounsaturated do this by maintaining levels of good cholesterol and reducing levels of bad cholesterol in your blood while polyunsaturated fats help lower the bad cholesterol in your blood. Generally, good fats can be found in plant oils, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish. Below, we have put together a list of some sources of healthy fats.
Monounsaturated fats can be found in:
- Olive oil, rapeseed oil and spreads made from these oils
- Nuts such as almonds, brazils, and peanut, hazelnuts – ( think nut butters!)
- Seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds
Polyunsaturated fats – these are Omega-3 and Omega-6.
Most people get enough Omega-6 in their diets. Omega-6 can be found in oils:
- Sunflower, soy and corn oil
Omega-3 can be found in
- Oily fish: salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel
- Chia seeds
What about fats for our kids?
Young children need fats to grow and healthy fats and cholesterol play a huge part in a child’s brain development. For this reason, healthy fats should not be excessively banned or limited. Fats also make the little ones feel fuller for longer, meaning they won't feel the need to constantly eat throughout the day….WIN! For children under 2 years old, healthy fats should not be restricted AT ALL! In fact, babies and young toddlers need almost half of their calories from fat (the healthy type). We want those brains to develop in the best way possible right?
A note on foods labelled ‘low fat’
Don’t be fooled. Foods that are labelled as lower fat, reduced fat, lite or light can be misleading. Foods lower in fat are not necessarily lower in calories. Sometimes the fat is replaced with sugar and so might have a similar energy content to the normal version. Also, if the original product is a high-fat product (like mayonnaise for example), then the lower fat version might still be too high in fat for a regular healthy diet.
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