After so many years of being told that fat is bad, causing the rise in consumption of sugary, processed carbohydrates we are still struggling to shake off this mindset that fat will make us fat. No one macros nutrient, be it protein, carbohydrate or fat is the cause of weight gain.
There are now, many studies showing that fat, including saturated fat is not the demon it has been made out to be. Puascitz et al 2015.
There are a lot of health benefits to consuming fats, they help maintain a healthy immune system, help us absorb fat soluble vitamins like vitamin D. They have an important role in the production of sex steroid hormones (progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone) which effect mood, libido and body composition. They also have an important role in recovery from exercise.
There are 3 types of fat that we need to consume:
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and mainly animal fats, cheese and dairy.
Monounsaturated are typically liquid at room temperature so oils like olive, nut and avocado oils as well as avocados, some nuts like almonds and hazelnuts and seeds.
Polyunsaturated fats are found in high concentration in fish like salmon, flaxseeds and walnuts.
There are a number of healthy foods that people are avoiding eating because they contain high amounts of fat.
So here is my top 10 list of healthy high fat foods:
Avocado is a fruit but unlike other fruits, which are high in carbohydrates, avocado is mainly fat.
They are packed full of potassium, more than a banana. They are a good source of fibre and can have a beneficial effect on lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (the bad one) Per 100g you’ll find 15g fat and 160 calories.
- Coconut oil
Coconut oil is a healthy high saturated fat oil that can have a number of benefits. Most fats contain long-chain triglycerides however, coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides, which means the fatty acids are shorter than most other fats. Coconut oil has been shown in studies to raise HDL cholesterol (the good one) helping reduce the risk of heart disease. 1 teaspoon of oil contains 4.5g fat and 39 calories.
Now cheese gets a bad wrap for being the culprit of weight gain however, it’s the amount thats consumed that is usually the issue. However, consumed in the right quantities cheese is incredibly nutritious. As well as containing protein it contains calcium, vitamins B12 and A, Riboflavin and Phosphorus. It is also a source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) a fat that helps with weight reduction and has heart protective effects.Per 100g cheese contains 406 calories, 24g protein and 33.8g fat.
Eggs have had a bad reputation in the past for raising cholesterol, however further studies have shown that they do not affect the cholesterol in the blood in most people. They are packed with vitamins and minerals, almost every micro nutrient is contained in an egg making it one of the most nutrient dense foods available. Even though eggs are high in fat it has been shown that people who replace a grain based breakfast with eggs have had a positive effect on their weight loss goal. One large egg contains 77 calories, 6g protein, 5g fat and is rich in B vitamins.
- Dark Chocolate
One ounce of dark chocolate contains 9g of fat, about half of that is saturated fat. A minimum of 70% dark chocolate also has a number of micro nutrients like vitamins A, B and E, potassium, magnesium and iron.
- Oily Fish
Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout are full of Omega3 fatty acids. It is recommended that we eat at least 2 servings a week to help boost heart health. One ounce of salmon contains 55 calories and 3.4g fat.
Nuts are high in healthy fats, and fibre and are a good plant-based source of protein. They contain a good amount of vitamin E and magnesium. Healthy nuts include, almonds, walnuts, macadamias among others. 100g of nuts contains 607 calories, 54g fat and 20g protein
- Olive Oil
One table spoon of olive oil contains 14g fat. Full of monounsaturated fats, olive oil is good for cooking with.
A cup of black olives contains 15g of fats, mainly monounsaturated. They also contain a number other beneficial nutrients like hydroxytyrosol, a phytonutrient.
- Sunflower Seeds
These are great sprinkled on salads or soups for a good dose of healthy fats, protein and fibre.
The best way to include fats into your diet is ensure a variety of each. Over consumption of saturated fats can lead to increased levels of LDL Cholesterol in the blood which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Trans fats are by far the worst fats to consume, also called trans fatty acids, they raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. One of the leading causes of heart problems in adults, they cause heart and blood vessel disease. Formed of hydrogenated vegetable oil, they are usually found in cakes, biscuits, pizzas and fried foods.
By avoiding trans fats and consuming a balanced amount of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats you’ll benefit your health. Just remember with 9 calories per gram you don’t needs lots to get the benefits.
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