You might be surprised to know that dietary fats (lipids) are an important factor in nutrition and health. Often considered as a negative portion of our diets, some in fact provide things such as energy, insulation, fatty acids to produce important hormonal regulators and much more.
Diseases, heart health and obesity come about from excessive amounts of inappropriate fats.
It can get confusing as to what is ‘Good” fat and what is “bad” fat. You have probably heard of the term “saturated” fat. Some saturated fats are healthy however fats should make up 30% of your daily nutritional intake. Keep trans fat at a low level. Keep total fat intake between 30 to 35 percent of calories for children 2 to 3 years of age and between 25 to 35 percent of calories for children and adolescents 4 to 18 years of age.
Fats (lipids) is an extensive area to be covered but to keep it simple to help you make healthier choices in your daily life, here is just a little information and some ideas on how to include those “good” fats in your diet.
When fat is eaten in large amounts, all fats, including healthy fats, this can contribute to weight gain. Fat is higher in energy (kilojoules/ calories) than any other nutrient. So a suggestion would be to eat small amounts of saturated fats, use low fat products especially those containing trans and saturated fats as these can increase bad cholesterol.
Unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. Both mono- and polyunsaturated fats, when eaten in moderation and used to replace saturated or trans fats, can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.
These types of fat can be found in foods such as:
- omega-3 fats which are found in fish, especially oily fish
- omega-6 fats which are found in some oils such as safflower and soybean oil, along with some nuts, including brazil nuts.
- found in olive and canola oil, avocados and some nuts, such as cashews and almonds.
Trans & saturated fats: can increase risk of heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol and other medical issues.
Some of these types of fats can be found in, animal fats, butter, lard, whole milk, ice cream, cream, cheese, high-fat meats like bacon and processed foods. Plant-based fats that have been hydrogenated and contain trans fat can be found in margarines, shortenings, fried foods and commercial baked goods.
My suggestion always read the labels. Make sure the fat is listed in the bottom half of the ingredients list, the lower on the list, the less it has compared to ingredients in front of it. Generally choose foods with less than 10g per 100g of total fat.
For milk, yogurt and icecream, choose less than 2g per 100g.
For cheese, choose less than 15g per 100g.
Saturated Fat, aim for the lowest, per 100g, less than 3g per 100g is best.
Some suggestions you could make to lower the saturated and trans fats and include those healthy unsaturated fats into your diet;
- swap butter and margarine to using avocado
- swapping oils to Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- including nuts
- include eggs
- fatty fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring
- add chia seeds to recipes and breakfast cereals
- ditch the butter on toast and try new ideas such as cottage cheese and honey or peanut butter
- opt for omega-3-rich eggs and grass-fed red meat over more conventional choices
- try adding flax seeds or flaxseed oil etc to smoothies
- home make your dressings and sauces from greek yoghurt
As suggested, READ THE LABELS. There are many different words used in the ingredients that identify types of fats you may be unaware of. So follow the guide above on fat % intake from the Australian Government on Health when you go shopping next.
Here’s to healthier choices and a healthier future!