Fat is the most controversial nutrients who had got a bad rep, since the 1980s, during the formative years, while we just started to talk about health and nutrition. Yet, over those controversial claims now we are realizing its potential and their positive effect on our health.
Fat has a very long history of mixed reps, good as well as bad. Still, there are many misconceptions and it won’t clear out easily. It all started when we were looking for the rise of health problem, how nutrients work and how it impacts our health.
During the earlier period fat was claimed for the rise of obesity and health problems, like inflammation. But the actual problem was missed, the type of fat which are unhealthy, wasn’t clear.
- Best Fat – Unsaturated Fat (Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9)
- Not So Good Fat – Saturated Fat
- Worst Fat – Trans fat
Omega-3 fatty acid is the most important fat required to control inflammation, support brain health, prevent chronic health problems such as heart disease and arthritis. You should increase Omega-3 rich food intake.
Another fat, Omega-6 is also required to control inflammation but excess intake is also responsible for inflammation. The problem is that our intake of Omega 6 has surpassed Omega-3. The ratio of Omega 6 has increased 15-30 times compared to Omega 3.
The problem is with dependency on processed foods prepared with corn, soybean, sunflower oil – all are top sources of Omega-6. Grain fed meat, egg, and milk have high Omega-6. Increased inflammation is not only due to lack of Omega 6 but due to lack of Omega 3.
You don’t need to worry about Omega-9 fatty acid intake, you get enough from food and body can produce in presence of Omega-3 and Omega-6.
The not so good fat- saturated fat intake should be controlled in the diet.
While the worst fat- trans fat should be avoided when possible, my suggestion, run away from such food as soon as possible.
Inflammation has increased with imbalanced intake of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid. The solution is to increase the intake of Omega-3 rich food as they can ease up inflammation, ease arthritis pain, relieve asthma, and even cut the risk of depression.
In the long run, good fat may cut the risk of dangerous heart arrhythmias (out-of-sync heartbeats that can lead to a heart attack), high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Other than these benefit, fat has many other roles which are the foundation of health like:
- Fat enhances the flavour and texture of food.
- It prevents skin from being rough and scaly.
- It helps to absorb fat-soluble vitamin A, D, E, K.
- Boost brain power.
Fat is required to absorb Vitamin A, D, E and K, which will be lost instead of eating abundant fat-soluble food. These vitamin plays a very important role and has a great antioxidant property. If your diet lack fat, your food won’t taste good and it demotivates to continue a healthy diet. Healthy fat improves food flavour, nourish the body, and prevent unwanted eating through fast food.
Where to Get Healthy Omega 3 Fatty Acid?
We can get healthy fat from plants such as nuts, olive, beans and also from most fishes. You can increase your Omega-3 fat intake through these foods.
Fish delivers high quality, high-concentration of omega-3 fatty acid. With a good source of protein, fish is not high in saturated fat, like meat.
You will find a high concentration of omega 3 fatty acid in fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and cold water fish. They are the richest source of powerful Omega 3- EPA and DHA.
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times a week.
Three serving of fish a month can cut your risk of stroke by 40 per cent; two serving a week could slash off heart disease by 59 per cent.
You can add more serving of fish by cutting high-fat meat intake. Looking for protein-rich food, then choose fish as they provide protein, healthy fat and cuts saturated fat those from meats. By cutting high saturated fat foods from your diet with a better alternative, you cut the risk of heart diseases.
The biggest concern with the fish intake is with environmental toxins like methylmercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and DDT (dicholorodiphenyl-trichloroethane). However, the fish that accumulate high amount of mercury is larger, predatory fishes – such as shark, swordfish, and marlin, king mackerel, tilefish.
Tuna has also a high level of mercury so it is recommended to limit its intake, especially for pregnant women.
You can also eat fishes like shrimp, pollock, prawn, and catfish. Generally wild fish are low in mercury so they should be the priority. 2-3 serving per week is enough to get benefit from fishes.
2) Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a healthy source of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. They make a perfect companion for health due to their healthy fat and other nutrients. You can eat during snack time, or add to smoothies or salad dressing.
Nuts are a dense source of energy and for a 100 calorie of snack you all need;
- 8 walnuts halves;
- 16-20 almonds;
- 10-12 cashews;
- 10 pecans;
- 7 to 8 macadamia nuts;
- 15 hazelnuts;
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
They are a high source of energy so its recommended to have control over its intake. While considering its calorie, they are rich in nutrients, provides better satiety than high calorie processed snacks.
Snacking on fulling and nutrients rich nut is still a better option than snacking on processed snacks those high in calories but no nutritional value.
The final food on the list is oil, the source from where we get most fat in our diet.
We use oil to cook food, to garnish salad, and major of the food preparation needs oil. If you use soybean, sunflower, or corn oil – your diet is dense in Omega-6. You can get healthy Omega-3 fatty acids from oils like olive, grapeseed, walnut, and pumpkin seed, so choose oil wisely for the cooking purpose.
Also, you should choose oil depending on its smoking point. Oil can have low, medium, or high smoke point. Smoke point is the temperature at which an oil starts to smoke, it tells, how much heat an oil can handle.
Low Smoke Point Oil: They can’t handle the heat so are best used for dips, salad dressing, marinades. Walnut, flaxseed, and extra-virgin olive oil are low smoke point oil.
Medium Smoke Point Oil: They can be used for sauce making, stir-frying, sautéing, and oven baking. Olive, canola, coconut, grape-seed, sesame oil are medium smoke point oil.
High Smoke Point Oil: They can withstand high temperature so are best to cook meat or fish making them suitable for, panfrying, and browning. Safflower, sunflower, peanut are high smoke point oil.
You should use oil depending on the purpose as deep-frying with low-smoke point oil can damage the oil property and aren’t good for health. When the oil is heated past its smoking point, it generates toxic fumes and free radicals, so use oil depending on the purpose of cooking.
Thought On Overeating Fat
Each nutrient has its own role; we need carbs, protein, as well as fat to balance the nutrient intake. Overeating any one nutrient due to certain claims of its effect on weight loss and health won’t provide the same benefits as intended. Your daily motto should be to eat all nutrients or say varieties of food. Don’t let any claims to cut down other nutrients. Balance is key for healthy eating.
When you eat healthy food from varieties of sources you won’t have to worry about overeating. Add food that contains fat in each meal to improve meal taste and flavour while allowing to improve absorption of fat-soluble fat. Don’t let any claims of fat making fat to skim fat from your diet.
Weight gain is not due to healthy fat, it is due to unhealthy fat and sugar-rich processed foods. Also, excess consumptions of meat and beef contribute major saturated fat intake, so its recommended to limit its intake.
Good fat is healthy when we eat the right amount. Eat high-quality fat in moderate amount as a part of a balanced, whole-food diet. Don’t forget to enjoy fat-rich food and don’t overeat, no matter how healthy it is.
This Article is part of Healthy Eating – Get Back Healthy Weight, Health & Vitality
3. Eat More Good Fat