Fats and oils-The Truth.
As an exercise and nutrition coach, I am constantly asked about fat, is it good is it bad? Which fat should I eat? There is a lot of confusion so I am hoping that this article will help answer any questions you may have about fats, and also give you some good information that you can out into use.
Quite simply fats and oils are essential to our optimal health. They are needed as building blocks for our cells and also for our main hormones. Using high quality fats and oils is the key however.
So lets look at the fats to avoid. Most of the processed foods we eat are full of the wrong fat for us, these are known as Trans Fatty Acids (TFAs) Why are they so bad? Well if I told you that the structural makeup of these TFAs are closer to plastic than actual fat would that make you think twice about eating them?
TFAs are thought to disrupt lipoprotein receptors in the cell, which impair the body’s ability to process LDL cholesterol (low density) i.e. bad cholesterol. This eventually leads to a build up in the blood and now you have someone with high cholesterol.
Now for the shocking truth. When people are told they have high cholesterol, they are told to reduce their animal fat intake, butter, cheese, eggs, and follow a low fat diet and eat more vegetables. They are told to substitute certain things like butter for margarine. The sad thing is this often makes things worse.
Margarine is known to have very high levels of TFAs within it. Many studies have shown a link between margarine and heart disease. It has been shown that we eat between 11-28 grams of TFAs a day. Now to me that is a lot of plastic.
So we have all heard about good fats or essential fatty acids (EFAs) these are fats that our bodies cannot produce and we must get them from the foods we eat. Essential fats are also known as omega 3 and omega 6 EFAs. These fats are found in oils such as corn and sunflower, oily fish, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds eggs and animal sources. The ideal ratio for omega 3 omega 4 is 1:4.
Essential fats are vital to brain and nervous system maintenance and repair. There are numerous learning and behavioral disorders associated with a lack of these essential fats in the diet. These include, Stroke, Cancer, Insulin resistance, depression, Alzheimer’s, Arthritis and many, many more.
Just one more thing. In our quest for a healthy diet we are told to reduce our Saturated fat intake. I have a problem with this. Saturated fat was our primary energy source for centuries, yet we eat less saturated fat now yet heart attack and stroke has continued to increase. If saturated fats were to blame for all this, then most of us would not be here today because for generations our families would have eaten a diet high in saturated fat. The confusion I think is that saturated fat and Trans fatty acids are one in the same. This simply is not true, the way to remember it is, if it comes from natural sources and is eaten sensibly and in moderation it is good for us and essential, however if it has been processed and made artificially we really should try to avoid these foods.
If you require any further help understanding the Fats Myth, or would like a full nutritional screen please contact me at