Do we need fat in our diets?
Fat often gets a bit of bad press – thankfully not as much as it used to, however, many people still feel unsure whether including fat in our diets is actually necessary.
The truth is there are different types of fats, some healthier for us than others, but the fact remains that we DO need to consume fat as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
“Healthy” fats are central to an immune-boosting diet, and getting a good balance of healthy fats every day is as important as staying hydrated and eating plenty of vegetables and fruit.
The fats in our food are often referred to as ‘bad’ and ‘good’, and food labelling often reflects this with red and green colour coding. The healthy fats are mono- and polyunsaturated fats and include omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Trans fats are found in biscuits and cakes and are a harmful type of fat. There are also saturated fats such as the visible fat we see on a piece of meat – these are recognizable by the fact that they are solids at room temperature and should be consumed in moderation.
So why do we need to eat healthy fats? Here are just some of the many reasons:
• They support our immune systems by helping to reduce inflammation, a common symptom in colds, chest infections, achy joints, hayfever, cuts and bruising
• They form a significant part of our brains and are important for a healthy cardiovascular system
• They help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels
Some practical tips to help maintain a balance of healthy and less healthy fats in our diets:
• Choose lean cuts of meat – chicken, turkey and fish instead of red meat
• Reduce portion sizes and frequency of sweet and fatty snacks especially cakes, biscuits, milky lattes and chocolate, where possible keeping them as weekly treats.
• Eat up to a tablespoonful of nuts and seeds a day, sprinkled on yoghurt, cereals, salads and vegetables or add to a smoothie. Tip: Try nuts such as walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and brazils, and seeds - flax (linseed), sunflower, chia, pumpkin
• Eat 2 palm-sized portions of oily fish per week, such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, pilchards, fresh tuna, herring
• Use cold-pressed seed and nut oils for drizzling over vegetables and salads, or for making dressings
• And for special occasions, replace ⅓ of plain flour in a favourite cake mix with ground almonds. Make a cream from ground cashew nuts and a little water - add spices or vanilla essence for flavour.
Disclaimer: The content of this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. References available on request.