Fat is back and in a good way! We have managed to get it so very wrong over the past few decades and it’s time to get it right. Several weeks ago I wrote a post about Butter v Margarine and wanted to dive into the topic a little further, so this week I have asked the most amazing Nutritionist Stacy Morgan to contribute to the discussion.
Here’s Stacy’s professional opinion:
Gone are the days of the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets that started in the 1970s. Whilst manufacturers were producing low-fat products, they were increasing sugar to replace the taste lost and unbeknown to consumers low-fat options were adding centimetres to their waistline. In fact, the obesity epidemic the world is now facing shortly followed this eating pattern that saw our diets reduce in fats and increase in sugar. However, many people still believe that eating fat makes you fat….. time for some re-education!
Whilst an overconsumption of fats can lead to increased energy consumption and weight gain. Several research studies have concluded that diets that are low in carbohydrate and higher in fat are now widely regarded as being healthier, particularly in terms of blood glucose control and weight loss. As far as enjoying our food, fats provide taste, flavour and palatability.
Fats have a major role in many biological functions in our body. Without fats, the body would be unable to absorb many of the nutrients we need to survive. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat soluble and our body absorbs these more efficiently in the presence of fat. Some types of fats are essential (meaning our body cannot make them and we need to consume them in our diet), these are required for cell membrane structure, inflammation control, blood clotting, neurological development, memory and vision just to name a few! Studies have shown that healthy fats can help protect us from a range of diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Now for a little biochemistry. Glucose is our main energy source and is necessary for our brain, organs and muscles to function. Insulin is a major hormone in our body and is responsible for regulating our blood glucose levels. So, you may ask how does our fat intake relate to insulin and glucose? When we consume foods that are high in carbohydrate (including sugar), we see a spike in blood glucose and our body responds with a release of insulin. This hormone tells our body to reduce the blood glucose by storing it as glycogen in our liver and muscles as well as using pathways to convert that carbohydrate to fat for storage. When we consume meals containing less carbohydrate and more healthy fats, we have less of a blood glucose spike and therefore less insulin. Fats have the ability to control these spikes in blood glucose, allowing us to be satiated longer and assist with managing our appetite.
So which fats should we be including in our diet?
To start with we need to understand the different types of fats we consume. Saturated fats are those that contain no double bonds in their carbon chain and are commonly found in animal fats, palm oil, cooking margarine, copha, and coconut oil. Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and contain one or more double bonds in their carbon chain, these can be found in olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids which contain both DHA and EPA are extremely beneficial to our health, these can be obtained from fatty fish such as salmon, ocean trout, and tuna.
Now when I say that fats are actually good in our diet, this does not mean you can all rush out and eat deep-fried takeaway foods, fatty snack foods, biscuits, pies, and pastries. These foods are all high in saturated and trans fats, and our aim is to swap the consumption of these fats for poly and monounsaturated fats that are better for our health. To achieve this all you need to do is consume a balanced diet where those highly processed fats are replaced with fats from healthy whole foods such as fish, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, seeds, and nuts.
So be smart about those low-fat options. Learn to read those nutrition labels, what additives are those low-fat options hiding?
I hope you enjoyed this week’s post! It’s such a privilege to have Stacy contribute to the Glamor Hippie discussion and I can’t thank her enough. Hopefully, I can convince her to pop in next year as well! Have a fabulous week.
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