With the low carbohydrate craze, many people have turned their attention to fats. They eat more of it and think its fine.
Depending on what kind of fat you are consuming and how much of it you take in, fats can be beneficial or detrimental to your health.
There are three main types of fat.
They are saturated, unsaturated and trans fats. Saturated fats come mainly from animal sources such as meat and dairy.
At room temperature, saturated fats are solid. Unsaturated fats come mainly from plant sources such as olives and nuts and contain no cholesterol.
They are liquid (oil) at room temperature.
Unsaturated fats are broken down further in monounsaturated (one double bond) and polyunsaturated (more than one double bond).
You might be asking yourself what a fat is saturated or unsaturated with.
A fat molecule (without getting into too much chemistry) is made up of carbon atoms that have hydrogen atoms attached to them.
In saturated fats, all carbon atoms have a single bond to another carbon atom and are also bonded to hydrogen atoms.
In unsaturated fats, not all carbons are saturated with hydrogens so double bonds form between carbons.
Depending on what carbon the double bond is formed determines the fat’s properties.
Trans fat is man made fat.
It is made by taking an unsaturated fat and putting hydrogen through it in a process called hydrogenation.
Trans fat is very bad for your health.
Whole saturated fat increases LDL (bad) cholesterol and very slightly increases HDL (good) cholesterol, trans fat increases LDL cholesterol and decreases HDL cholesterol.
Fats, technically called lipids, are the most energy dense of the three macro nutrients.
They are composed of building blocks called fatty acids, which fall into three main categories:
Found mainly in animal and dairy products, such as whole milk, cheese, beef, veal, lamb, pork and ham.
Saturated fat is used by the liver to make cholesterol.
Which is involved in the production of hormones such as testosterone.
This is important – you need some fat in your diet to keep your body’s hormone production where it should be.
Found in things like corn, soybeans, safflower and sunflower oils. Some fish oils are also high in polyunsaturated fats.
This type of fat may help lower total cholesterol. Since this includes good cholesterol, intake of this type of fat should be limited.
Found in vegetable and nut oils, such as olive, peanut and canola. They can help lower LDL, or bad cholesterol without lowering HDL, or good cholesterol.
Most foods are a combination of all 3 fatty acid types, one is typically the dominant type which therefore dictates it’s classification.
These occur when polyunsaturated oils are altered through hydrogenation, a process used to harden liquid vegetable oils into solid foods like margarine and shortening.
Fat intake should be kept low. In fact, many bodybuilders find that fat is naturally kept at low levels by simple eating “clean” – lean meat and dairy sources of protein, complex carbohydrates as listed below.
Some bodybuilders add an omega 3 fatty acid supplement to their diet to insure a source of healthy fats.
Food Choices For Fats Are
- Sunflower seeds
- Canola oil
- Olive oil
Fats To Avoid
- Processed vegetable oils
Fats To Limit
- Saturated fats
The Institute of Medicine suggests adults eat 20 to 35 percent of their daily calories from fat.
Since fat provides 9 calories per gram, calculate your fat needs by dividing 20 to 35 percent of your calorie requirements by nine.
Based on these recommendations you should eat 400 to 700 calories from fat, or about 44 to 78 grams of fat, each day when following a 2,000-calorie diet.
To reduce your risk for heart disease, choose healthy unsaturated fats.
Tips for your everyday life
It’s safe to use 10 to 15 g (= 2 to 3 teaspoons) high-quality vegetable oil for cold plates. Try walnut or linseed oil for salads.
Don’t use more than 10 to 15 g of vegetable oils for frying or baking.
Sunflower or rapeseed oil work well here. In addition, you can use approx. 10 g butter or margarine per day on your bread.
Fats and sports
Just like protein and carbs, fats also play a vital role in sports nutrition.
Athletes should definitely have an eye on their fat intake.
US-American nutrition researcher, Atemis Simopulos, recommends 2 g omega-3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA) per day.
They are found in fatty fish, but also in linseeds (flax seeds) or chia seeds.
One big piece of salmon or one tablespoon of linseed or chia oil already cover your daily requirement.
Did you know…
…that fat slows down your digestion? If you incorporate some healthy fats into your diet, you’ll stay full longer.
Plus, your blood sugar levels will rise more slowly when combining your meals with (healthy) fats.
This helps prevent cravings.
10 High-Fat Foods That Are Actually Super Healthy
The avocado is different from most other fruits.
Whereas most fruits primarily contain carbs, avocados are loaded with fats.
In fact, avocados are about 77% fat, by calories, making them even higher in fat than most animal foods.
The main fatty acid is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. This is also the predominant fatty acid in olive oil, associated with various health benefits.
Avocados are among the best sources of potassium in the diet, even containing 40% more potassium than bananas, a typical high potassium food.
They’re also a great source of fiber, and studies have shown that they can lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising HDL (the “good”) cholesterol.
Even though they are high in fat and calories, one study shows that people who eat avocados tend to weigh less and have less belly fat than those who don’t..
Cheese is incredibly nutritious.
This makes sense, given that an entire cup of milk is used to produce a single thick slice of cheese.
It is a great source of calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and selenium, and contains all sorts of other nutrients.
It is also very rich in protein, with a single thick slice of cheese containing 6.7 grams of protein, same as a glass of milk.
Cheese, like other high-fat dairy products, also contains powerful fatty acids that have been linked to all sorts of benefits, including reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
3. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is one of those rare health foods that actually taste incredible.
It is very high in fat, with fat at around 65% of calories.
Dark chocolate is 11% fiber and contains over 50% of the RDA for iron, magnesium, copper and manganese.
It is also loaded with antioxidants, so much that it is one of the highest scoring foods tested, even outranking blueberries.
Some of the antioxidants in it have potent biological activity, and can lower blood pressure and protect LDL cholesterol in the blood from becoming oxidized.
Studies also show that people who eat dark chocolate 5 or more times per week are less than half as likely to die from heart disease, compared to people who don’t eat dark chocolate.
There are also some studies showing that dark chocolate can improve brain function, and protect your skin from damage when exposed to the sun.
Just make sure to choose quality dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa.
4. Whole Eggs
Whole eggs used to be considered unhealthy because the yolks are high in cholesterol and fat.
In fact, a single egg contains 212 mg of cholesterol, which is 71% of the recommended daily intake. Plus, 62% of the calories in whole eggs are from fat.
However, new studies have shown that cholesterol in eggs doesn’t affect the cholesterol in the blood, at least not in the majority of people.
What we’re left with is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.
Whole eggs are actually loaded with vitamins and minerals. They contain a little bit of almost every single nutrient we need.
They even contain powerful antioxidants that protect the eyes, and lots of choline, a brain nutrient that 90% of people don’t get enough of.
Eggs are also a weight loss friendly food. They are very fulfilling and high in protein, the most important nutrient for weight loss.
Despite being high in fat, people who replace a grain-based breakfast with eggs end up eating fewer calories and losing weight.
The best eggs are omega-3 enriched or pastured. Just don’t throw away the yolk, that’s where almost all the nutrients are found.
5. Fatty Fish
One of the few animal products that most people agree is healthy, is fatty fish.
This includes fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring.
These fish are loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, high quality proteins and all sorts of important nutrients.
Studies show that people who eat fish tend to be much healthier, with a lower risk of heart disease, depression, dementia and all sorts of common diseases.
If you can’t (or won’t) eat fish, then taking a fish oil supplement can be useful. Cod fish liver oil is best, it contains all the omega-3s that you need, as well as plenty of vitamin D.
Nuts are incredibly healthy.
They are high in healthy fats and fiber, and are a good plant-based source of protein.
Nuts are also high in vitamin E and loaded with magnesium, a mineral that most people don’t get enough of.
Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier, and have a lower risk of various diseases.
This includes obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Healthy nuts include almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts and numerous others.
7. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are generally not perceived as a “fatty” food.
However, an ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds actually contains 9 grams of fat.
Considering that almost all the carbs in chia seeds are fiber, the majority of calories in them actually comes from fat.
In fact, by calories, chia seeds are around 80% fat. This makes them an excellent high-fat plant food.
These aren’t just any fats either, the majority of the fats in chia seeds consists of the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid called ALA.
Chia seeds may also have numerous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and having anti-inflammatory effects.
They are also incredibly nutritious. In addition to being loaded with fiber and omega-3s, chia seeds are also packed with minerals.
8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Another fatty food that almost everyone agrees is healthy, is extra virgin olive oil.
This fat is an essential component of the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to have numerous health benefits.
Extra virgin olive oil contains vitamins E and K, and is loaded with powerful antioxidants.
Some of these antioxidants can fight inflammation and help protect the LDL particles in the blood from becoming oxidized.
It has also been shown to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol markers and have all sorts of benefits related to heart disease risk.
Out of all the healthy fats and oils in the diet, extra virgin olive oil is the king.
9. Coconuts and Coconut Oil
Coconuts, and coconut oil, are the richest sources of saturated fat on the planet.
In fact, about 90% of the fatty acids in them are saturated.
Even so, populations that consume large amounts of coconut do not have high levels of heart disease, and are in excellent health.
Coconut fats are actually different than most other fats, and consist largely of medium-chain fatty acids.
These fatty acids are metabolized differently, going straight to the liver where they may be turned into ketone bodies.
Studies show that medium-chain fats suppress appetite, helping people eat fewer calories, and can boost metabolism by up to 120 calories per day.
Many studies show that these types of fats can have benefits for people with Alzheimer’s, and they have also been shown to help you lose belly fat.
10. Full-Fat Yogurt
Real, full-fat yogurt is incredibly healthy.
It has all the same important nutrients as other high-fat dairy products.
But it’s also loaded with healthy, probiotic bacteria, that can have powerful effects on your health.
Studies show that yogurt can lead to major improvements in digestive health, and may even help fight heart disease and obesity.
Just make sure to choose real, full-fat yogurt and read the label.
Unfortunately, many of the yogurts found on store shelves are low in fat, but loaded with added sugar instead.
It is best to avoid those like the plague.