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Good fats: Bad fats

Our trained bodies need a supply of fat, so which are the better ones and which are the ones to either cut back or even avoid?




What is fat?

Fat is the most concentrated form of energy, containing about 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram in protein and carbohydrate. Some sorts are from animals (it can be found on butter, skin, around certain cuts of meat) and some from plants and vegetables (olive oil, nuts and seeds).


Are fats unhealthy?

Not all of them. We need the essential fatty acids (oily fish, seeds, seed oils) to help the growth and development of the brain, nervous system and the well-being of every cell in our body. 

Other fats - saturated fats (butter, meat) – should be treated with more caution. Too much can raise blood pressure & blood cholesterol, block arteries, and could lead to heart disease.


How much should I eat?

All fats have a lot of calories, and eating too much will lead to weight gain and other, more nasty things like coronary heart disease. It is suggested by dieticians that our daily fat intake should be no more than 30% our daily calorie intake. 

But as well as controlling the amount of fat you take, we should also eat the right types of fat.





Which fats to avoid?

Saturated fat is the type most connected to health problems. Generally saturated fats are from animal sources, which is typically solid at room temperature, though coconut and palm oils also contain large amounts.


What are Trans Fats?

These are vegetable fats that have been treated to give them the characteristics of saturated fats, including solid at room temperature. They are mainly found in hydrogenated vegetable oil, used in processed foods such as biscuits, pies and margarines. They are thought to increase the risk of coronary heart disease in a similar way to saturated fats.  


Which Fats are Good?

Unsaturated fats are considered much healthier. They come in 2 categories (determined by their molecular structure).

Monosaturated fats (olives, avocados, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans) – may lower “bad” LDL (low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol and raise “good” HDL (high-density lipoproteins) cholesterol. 

Polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 from oily fish, linseed oil, pumpkin seeds and omega-6 from sunflower oil, corn oil, nuts and seeds) – lowers LDL cholesterol and helps brain development and healthy hearts. 

It is recommended by the American Heart Association that 8-10% of your daily calories should come from Polyunsaturated fats


Are there other benefits to eating fat?

Fat protects the body’s internal organs and without it, we can’t absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.





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