Good fats & Bad fats And Why fats are so important for us?

Good fats & Bad fats And  Why fats are so important for us? Share

Fat is an extremely efficient way of storing fuel. It gives us 10x more potential energy than carbohydrates.It also gives us a good layer of subcutaneous fat that helps us to keep warm in cold climates.

It works as a shock absorber in that it helps to protect our inner organs, in particular the kidneys and the brain.

Fat is vital for our immune system. If our body needs to fight any infection, it uses a lot of energy and the best thing as a fuel is fat. It gives us steady energy for a longer period of time.

Fat is an important lubricant which is why it’s always found in cosmetic products. If you suffer with dry skin, dry eyes, dry mouth or dry perineums it is very likely to be due to a low-fat diet. (i)

It is vital for delivering and absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, like A, D, E, K.

Our bodies contain and use 2 types of fats:

  1. Saturated fats

They are semi-solid at room temperature:

  • Coconut oil
  • Ghee
  • Chocolate fat
  • goose fat
  • lard
  • butter

They become hard if placed somewhere cold like a fridge or a freezer.  Saturated – means that they are saturated with either another carbon or a hydrogen atom. This makes them more stable especially when heated because heat cannot break those strong bonds easily.  These types of oils are great for frying food in the pan and simply cooking with.

Eat a sufficient amount to maintain weight and energy levels (mental, physical). (i)

I’m sure everyone has heard that saturated fats are bad for us. The actual truth is different. Our body needs these fats! Saturated fat is found in every cell membrane as well as in mitochondria, the power station for making energy. Cholesterol, one of the saturated fats, is very important in memory formation. The highest concentration of cholesterol is in the brain and low cholesterol levels are associated with depression, anti-social behaviour and even suicide. (ii)

  1. Monounsaturated/polyunsaturated fats

These fats tend to stay liquid in room temperature. They include:

  • olive oil
  • sunflower oil
  • grapeseed oil
  • avocado oil
  • linseed/flaxseed oil
  • safflower oil
  • any nut oils
  • fish oil

The biochemical structure is that the occasional hydrogen atom is ‘missing’ and so we get double carbon bond instead. Monounsaturated fats have 1 double bond (olive oil), whereas polyunsaturated has more double carbon bonds and this gives them a weak point (most nut, seed, and vegetable and fish oils). This means that monounsaturated fats are more stable but still very sensitive to heat.

These oils are called Essential fatty acids (EFAs) – omega 3, omega – 6, omega – 9. Because our bodies cannot make them itself we have to get them in through diet.

Only tiny amounts of EFAs are required. A dessert spoon daily. Or 1000mg of fish oil or 500mg of evening primrose. (i)

Also by eating the right foods like seeds and nuts, in their natural forms, avocado, olives, oily fish, coconuts gives us these good fats.

Toxins in oils

Problems arise when we heat up the wrong oils or hydrogenate them (a process where they are changed to solids such as margarine). Their chemical structure changes and they become toxic to human bodies, they are called Trans-fats. These fats do not fit our biochemistry and they clog up systems and are highly damaging. These fats have been linked to serious health issues such as different types of cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases. They have a negative impact on our brain and they interfere with learning ability.   

Foods loaded with pro-inflammatory bad fat

  • Margarine
  • Salad dressing. Always make your own one with the right oils so you know what exactly is in the dressing.
  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk. If you do choose soya milk, it is important to go for organic – no MSG, and whole bean soy.
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Salted and roasted nuts. They are usually roasted in vegetable oils
  • Fries
  • Crackers and crisps
  • Again always check which fat is used in making the granola as often it uses vegetable oil.
  • Soft breads, buns, cakes, biscuits…

(iii)

Our body has a very clever system in place for controlling fat and cholesterol. The liver does a lot of the work, however, we do need to give it a helping hand by making the right choices and avoiding the unnecessary unhealthy fats.

Sources:              

  1. Myhill, S. Robinson, C. 2016. Prevent and cure diabetes. ‘Why fats are so important to us’. Hammersmith Health Books. London. Pp 139-147)
  2. https://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/?gclid=CjwKCAjwtO7qBRBQEiwAl5WC20vM0aykYvHPeFDcR664-Dj7mqsMokCZ170o9UaJICxMZZXdgMDAsxoCCOkQAvD_BwE
  • Shanahan, C. 2016. Deep nutrition. ‘Good fats and bad fats’. Flatiron books. New York. Pp 121-161