Fat = 9 calories/gram
The debate between ‘good’ fat versus ‘bad’ fat is a confusing one.
In order to have a balanced whole foods diet you must consume fat on a daily basis. Fats are important for transporting nutrients, including vitamins A, D, E, K and other fat-soluble vitamins.
Fat is also responsible for protecting the vital organs from trauma and temperature change while also providing padding and insulation. Moreover, fats are essential for the nervous system and in the manufacturing of steroid and sex hormones.
The inclusion of good fat in the diet helps to keep you feeling full. Not enough good fat can contribute to allergies, inflammation, arthritis, depression and learning disabilities.
An excess of bad fats are linked to a variety of illnesses and diseases, namely cardiovascular disease and obesity.
Types of fat:
Trans fats (Partially Hydrogenated Oils)
- These are manufactured fats found in margarine, packaged foods, fried foods and microwave popcorn.
- They increase LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower HDL (good cholesterol).
- They cause hardening of the arteries, increase the risk of Type II Diabetes, and amplify your exposure to free radicals, thereby escalating your risk for cancer.
- AVOID COMPLETELY
- Usually found in animal foods – red meat, dairy, and palm kernel oil
- Saturated fats indicate a positive correlation with the risk of cardiovascular disease, mainly due to cholesterol raising effects from the consumption of man-made processed foods.
- Saturated fat can both raise and lower cholesterol levels depending on the type and amount of saturated fat you consume.
- When choosing saturated fats, ensure they are unprocessed and from a whole foods source.
Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFAs)
- Found in most vegetable oils – corn, safflower, soybean and sunflower.
- Lowers your bad cholesterol, may also lower the good cholesterol.
- Unstable when heated and can increase exposure to free radicals.
- Most are a source of Omega-6 fatty acids.
- Okay to eat as long as you don’t have too much.
- Are considered to be “good fats”.
- Found in olive, canola and peanut oils and avocados.
- Heart healthy and anti-inflammatory in nature.
- It’s best to use extra virgin olive oil.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs): Omega 3 and Omega 6
- EFAs from food are essential as your body cannot make them.
- The two types of EFAs are Omega 6 (Linoleic Acid) and Omega 3 (Linolenic Acid).
- Every living cell in your body needs EFAs to rebuild and produce new cells.
- Too much Omega 6 in the form of processed vegetable oils can create an imbalance in the ratio of Omega 6: Omega 3.
- Omega 3 and Omega 6 need to be kept in a 1:1 ratio balance for optimal health.
- Only Omega 3s contain EPA and DHA which are vital for your brain and cardiovascular health.
- Omega 3 EFAs are found in fish oil supplements, flaxseed oil, deep-water fish, walnuts and walnut oil.