Fat Is Where It’s At!
Monday, October 9, 2017 - Lydia Phua, thatswholesome.com
When the word fat comes to mind, what do you think of?
A nice, juicy cheeseburger from your favourite fast food chain, or perhaps a sudden jolt of fear because its reminding you of your current weight situation, or maybe your child’s weight situation? Well, worry not, we won’t be dwelling on greasy foods, or the fear of being fat, but rather how fat can benefit us. Yes, fat can be good and have been good. We’ve just been focusing too much on the wrong ones.
Fats are usually deemed the bad guys or the culprits when it comes to naming something unhealthy in one’s diet. But, like how we sometimes like to generalise and say all humanity is evil because of the wrongdoings of the few bad apples in our society, we have also been generalising all fats as bad, unhealthy and culprits of untimely deaths. Well, guess what? Like how at times we say there is hope in humanity when something positive happens in our world, there is also hope in the fat department. Not all fats are harmful to our health. In fact, our body needs fat to function normally, from being a part of our cells to producing the right amount of hormones.
Fat is Good
Just like us, fats come in different sizes and have different characteristics when we consume them. We have saturated fats and trans fat, which are the unhealthy ones, and typically found in our deep fried foods, junk food, fast food, ice cream and red meat. Research over the years have shown that high levels of saturated and trans fats in our body can lead to cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease. (Kris-Etherton, 2002). So keeping fast food and junk food intake at its minimum for you and your children would go a long way in the long run.
Now, lets focus on the good fats, the monounsaturated, a.k.a. omega-9 and polyunsaturated fats, a.k.a. omega-3 and omega-6. Unlike the bad fats mentioned before, these fats have been proven to be beneficial for our health and can aid in reversing the negative effects of the bad fats. For instance, omega-3 oils, which are typically found in fish can support cardiovascular health by lowering high blood pressure and can help in reducing the risk of strokes and heart attacks. (Kris-Etherton, 2002). It is also good for children to have more polyunsaturated fats in their diet because these fats are required for the development of the brain and immune system. (Millner, 1999). In addition to healthy development of the brain, omega-3 fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can sometimes help improve skin health and prevent allergies. So, next time when you go grocery shopping for yourself or your family, be sure to include some foods that are rich in omega 3, 6 or 9 fatty acids.
Simple ways to include healthy fats in your family’s diet
1. Swapping butter to avocado as a spread:
Avocado contains a good load of monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, which is also beneficial for our skin’s health.
2. Nuts and seeds:
Nuts, especially tree nuts, like our almonds, walnuts, cashews and macadamias make a great protein filled snack that is also a rich source of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. If you or your children enjoy having oats, cereal or yoghurt in the morning, sprinkling a bit of chia seeds or sunflower seeds would also help you obtain good fats.
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3. Salad dressings:
Olive oils are a classic salad dressing and have also been well known for promoting good health. It is popular in the Mediterranean, which is renowned for having one of the healthiest diets in the world.
4. Get fishy:
Include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna or cod in your meals more regularly.
Lydia is a practising Nutritionist and a member of the Nutrition Society of Malaysia. She has helped many individuals from different health backgrounds in the past. She is currently working on a nutrition and health website www.thatswholesome.com and teaches kids biology during the day. In the meantime, log on to thats_wholesome on Instagram for more nutritional inspiration.