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The good, the balance and the ugly: Fat in your diet

We have all heard that fat is bad for us. HOWEVER, a healthy body needs fat, it is critical to your health. Our skin depends on it, our nervous system, our hormonal system.

Our diet consists of 3 elements. Carbs ( including of course fibre) , protein and fats.

The idea that fat is unhealthy is untrue, on the contrary. However, it is the quality that matters. We need to eat high quality fats and in the right quantities. Our diet should include approximately 30% fat in order to function at its best.

In terms of fat, there are 3 main categories ; saturated, unsaturated and trans fats.

Saturated fats are fats which are solid at room temperature. Mostly animal origin but this does include fats such as coconut oil. There is some debate as to the effect of saturated fats in the body. The consensus is that saturated fats contribute to high cholesterol which is linked to heart disease and therefore the consumption of saturated fat should be limited.

The second category are unsaturated fats which tend to be in liquid form at room temperature; these are called poly unsaturated and mono unsaturated.

Now this is where it becomes interesting. Poly unsaturated fats are those that include omega 6 and omega 3. Our bodies require a ratio of about 4:1 omega 6:3. Omega 3 is an anti inflammatory fat whereas omega 6 at high levels can promote inflammation. Most diets result in a ratio of 10:1 or up to 50:1 omega 6:3. These ratios are very high and can lend to a variety of health problems; inflammation and cholesterol imbalances.

Most oils that we have access to buy at the store have very high levels of omega 6. In order for us to move towards a healthier balance of omega fatty acids, we must eat more consciously and balance our consumption of omega 6 with our intake of omega 3 either in supplements or by eating more fatty fish such as salmon.

Mono unsaturated is very healthy and includes olive oil.

Trans fats is the third category. These fats are most commonly found in processed foods or fast food. Trans fats represent fats which have been altered through a process called hydrogenation. This chemical change in the fat has been shown to lead to increased inflammation in the body as well as increase the so called bad cholesterol in the blood.

It can be confusing. But, the bottom line is this.

Think about where the fat in your diet comes from. Is it saturated, unsaturated or trans fat and what proportion of each do you consume.

  • Reduce the consumption of processed or fast food

  • Increase your consumption of extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

  • Reduce your consumption of very high omega 6 oils especially those which are highly genetically modified such as corn, canola, soy, safflower, sunflower. Instead, eat walnuts or include flax in your diet.

  • Find your fat in foods such as nuts, salmon, eggs, avocados, wild salmon.

A small change can make a large difference down the road in terms of our health.


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