Low fat? Reduced fat? No fat? - These are some of the keywords that people usually look out for when selecting a food item as part of a healthy diet.
But does low or no fat = healthy? Not exactly.
Fat often gets a bad reputation and is always singled out as the macronutrient that causes you to gain weight if you eat too much of it. But in actual fact, any macronutrient - carbohydrate, protein, or fat can cause weight gain when eaten in excess and the calories taken in by the body (through food) is higher than the calories used (through metabolism, daily activity, exercise).
Functions of Fats
What we need to come to terms with is that fat - the most misunderstood nutrient - is an essential part of our diet and we need to consume it daily in order for our body to function well. Besides providing the body with energy, here are some of the lesser known but nonetheless important functions of fat:
Our fat cells can store large amounts of energy and serve as a long-term energy reserve. We rely on the stored energy in fat to help meet our basic energy needs at rest, as well as for physical activity.
2. Insulating and protecting
Fat stored underneath the skin helps insulate the body from extreme temperatures and regulate our body temperature. It also provides padding on areas that come in contact with hard surfaces and lead to friction - like our hands.
Deposits of fat also surround certain vital organs like the heart and kidneys. It serves as a protective layer to absorb any physical shock or injury, and helps hold the organs in place.
3. Absorption of vitamins from food
Vitamin A, D, E, and K, found in various foods are fat-soluble vitamins. This means that fat is required in order for these vitamins to be absorbed and utilised by the body.
Make sure your meals also include some healthy fats so that these vitamins can be absorbed!
4. Contributes to taste, smell, and satiety of food
Fat adds a lot of flavour to food and can help you feel more satisfied and content with your meal! It also takes longer to digest, which helps with satiety as well as regulating blood sugar spikes. If you’re experiencing regular bouts of hunger pangs, even when you have just eaten not too long ago, you might not be including enough healthy fats in your diet.
5. Provide essential fatty acids
Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce and therefore have to be obtained from the diet through fat sources of foods. These essential fatty acids for various body functions, especially for brain, eye, skin, and hair health.
Sources of Healthy Fats
1. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are great to include in your diet. They are full of healthy fats, fibre, and are also a good source of plant-based protein. Aim to have a variety of nuts and seeds daily, about 1 handful or 30 grams.
2. Oily fish
Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines are some examples of oily fish. They are a great source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, high quality protein, as well as other vitamins and minerals - all of which help support a healthy immune system, heart health, as well as reduce inflammation.
The recommended intake for oily fish is 2-3 times a week. If you don’t eat fish, you can also consider a fish oil supplement like cod liver oil.
3. Plant oils
Olive oil is one of the most talked about oils in terms of health benefits. It’s high in healthy fats and contains a fatty acid called oleic acid, which has been shown to have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects.
Try swapping your regular oil with olive oil, which is versatile and provides great flavour especially in roasts and salad dressings. You can also include more varieties of plant oils such as walnut oil and flaxseed oil in your diet.
Avocados are classified as a fruit, but while most fruits contain mainly carbohydrates, avocados are high in fat. In fact, 80% of the calories in avocados are made up of healthy fats! Besides that, they are also a good source of fibre, and a variety of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, potassium, as well as antioxidants. These nutrients are important for digestive health, immune system, heart health, and weight management. This makes avocados a satisfying and nutritious fruit to include as part of a healthy diet!
5. Whole eggs
In the past, egg yolks were seen to be unhealthy due to it being high in cholesterol and fat. However, a lot of research has shown that cholesterol from egg yolks or other foods in general don’t have a negative effect on our blood cholesterol levels.
In fact, eating whole eggs can be very beneficial for health. Eggs contain many vitamins and minerals such as choline, a nutrient that our brain needs for optimum health which many people don’t get enough of. Eggs are also a high protein food which helps with the feeling of fullness and satisfaction to your meal so you are less likely to overeat.
Fats are definitely important for our body to function properly daily - and not to be feared! There are plenty of healthy fat foods that are easy to include in a well-balanced diet. As always, everything should be eaten in moderation according to your lifestyle and the foods that work best for you.
TWK Products High in Healthy Fats
At The Whole Kitchen, we make sure to also incorporate good quality, all natural ingredients that are high in healthy fats. Check them out:
Low Carb Nut & Seed Bread
Our Low Carb Nut & Seed Bread is a unique loaf made from a variety of premium nuts and seeds! It’s nutrient dense and great for those who prefer or require a lower carb alternative to traditional bread. Enjoy it toasted on its own or with your favourite toppings!
Cakes and Muffins
Nuts and nut flours make the base of all our cakes and muffins. From almonds, to cashews, to walnuts - it’s the perfect way to get your dose of healthy fats from different nuts. They are also only lightly sweetened with either fresh/dried fruit, honey, or coconut sugar so you won’t get a sugar spike with these sweet treats.
Our Nut Mixes are great snacking! With a premium blend of nuts, you are sure to get all the various nutrients along with healthy fats. Enjoy them alone or top them on salads for added texture and crunch.
TWK Cafe: Keto Smoked Salmon Tartine
Looking to dine in at our cafés? You can also enjoy a meal filled with healthy fats with our Keto Smoked Salmon Tartine! Smoked salmon, avocado, and cream cheese sits atop our Low Carb Nut & Seed Bread. A satisfying and nutritious meal!