We all know that fat is an essential part of out diets. A certain amount of good fats is needed to maintain healthy nerves, brain and skin cells, to ensure our vital organs run well and to help control body temperature. Fat provides us with energy and gives taste to our food.
Here are 10 useful facts about fats that everybody should know.
Fact # 1: There are four main types of fats
Dieticians recommend eating mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – such as fish, legumes and vegetables – and limiting saturated fats, such as meat.
Another type is trans fats, which are full of sugar and are often found in processed foods.
Fact #2: Your body tells you when you’re not getting enough good fats
You have more than 10 trillion cells in your body and they all need fat to live. The following symptoms may be warning signs that you’re not feeding your body the right amount of high-quality fat:
- dry, itchy, flaky skin
- soft or brittle nails
- aching or stiff joints
- hard earwax
- tiny bumps on the backs of your arms or torso.
Fact #3: Your brain is mostly fat
About 60 per cent of your brain is made of fatty liquids, with the largest part coming from the omega-3 fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is important because it is responsible for connecting communication between cells. This is why eating enough omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, mackerel, chai seeds, walnuts, eggs, milk, yoghurt, avocado and spinach) is so vital – it’s basically lubrication for your brain.
Fact #5: Fat won’t make you fat – sugar will
The idea that fat makes you fat has dominated our culture for years. But it has slowly started to break down thanks to the findings of modern nutrition scientists. We do know that too much sugar can make you fat, however. Excess sugar raises your blood sugar levels and makes it harder for your body to regulate it. If we can’t burn all the sugar we eat, it inevitably ends up stored as fat. Basically, too much sugar causes insulin resistance, which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes, metabolic mayhem and weight gain.
Fact # 6: Good fats can help you lose weight
When your body’s cell walls are made from high-quality fats, you can metabolise insulin better and keep blood sugar levels regulated. Eating the right fats increases fat burning and helps you stay fuller for longer.
Fact #7: Saturated fat is not the bad guy
We know that eating more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and fewer trans fats is the way to go. But what about saturated fats? Saturated fat is found in red meat, poultry, lard and cream, butter, cheese and other full-fat dairy products. A good rule of thumb is to think about quality. The fatty beef patty in a McDonald’s hamburger is loaded with saturated fat and lacks almost any nutritional value, while a glass of full-fat milk contains not only fat but calcium, vitamin D and potassium. The trick is not to cut out saturated fat but to eat the right kind.