Like carbs, and perhaps worse so, fats have gotten unfair bad press in recent years and it’s a similar story of not all fats being equal when it comes to the impact on our bodies.
Fat is a major source of energy for our bodies, it helps them to absorb vitamins, it plays a major role in hormone and cholesterol levels, it’s an important source of calories and nutrients for infants and toddlers (hence why we buy them whole milk), we need it for insulation and much more.
The challenge lies in the types of fats that we’re eating and the amounts of them. An unprocessed diet containing an appropriate amount of healthy, natural fats is very different to a highly processed one full of convenience food. (The latter likely contains significant amounts of sugar as well as hydrogenated and trans fats, which are basically fats that have been chemically altered during processing for a longer shelf life.)
And on the sugar point, it’s worth noting that fat helps food to taste good. So when it’s stripped out in ‘low fat’ products the manufacturers typically replace it with sugar to make it taste nice again. So if you’re consuming too much fat or not the right types, you’re typically better of choosing different foods instead of looking for a low fat alternative.
Going back to fat, there’s lots of interesting information out there on saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, omegas 3&6, etc. but you really don’t need to go down that rabbit hole. Our bodies need balance & variety, so the best thing you can do is eat a varied, minimally processed diet that includes small amounts of healthy fats in each meal, so things like:
- avocados & avocado oil
- cold pressed nut and seed oils
- fresh coconut and coconut oil
- nut & seeds
- nut & seed butters
- olives & extra virgin olive oil
- dairy – aged cheese, butter, cream, eggs
- fattier cuts of meat or fish
With the last two ideally sourced from grass fed/wild caught animals as they tend to have better fatty acid profiles.
(N.B. as we’ve been talking about processed foods I thought I’d share Dr Ranjan Chatterjee’s rule of 5, which basically suggests that if your food item contains more than 5 ingredients you should completely avoid it because it will be highly processed. To be clear, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat more than 5 ingredients in a meal, just that if one item you buy has more than 5 ingredients in it, then it’s typically been heavily processed to put them all together in that one item and keep it fresh for a period of time.)