Good Fats, Bad Fats and All the stuff in Between…
Without a doubt, fats have earned a bad wrap. You see so many products in the store advertising that they are fat-free. Why is everyone trying to avoid fat, and are all fats deserving of their not so good reputation? With things like the Keto diet gaining popularity, which encourages a higher fat consumption with far fewer carbs, it’s becoming clear that it isn’t so black and white.
Not all Fats are Created Equal
- Omega-9 (also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids) is found in things like olive oil and almond butter. These travel through noninflammatory pathways in the body so they aren’t harmful when consumed in moderation.
- Omega-6 is found in foods such as poultry, eggs and sunflower seeds. These are the most consumed fats in the western diet, along with Omega-9.
- Omega-3 is found in foods such as salmon. It is a great source of two essential fatty acids, DHA and EPA. That’s the good stuff!
- Trans Fat is the type of fat that has earned the bad wrap. Most of the trans fat we consume comes from partially hydrogenated oils. Coffee creamers, fried foods, margarine and ready to use frosting contain partially hydrogenated oils, to name a few.
There are Benefits to Consuming Healthy Fats
There are countless benefits of consuming the right amount of fat, more importantly, the optimal ratio of fat. Fat is a part of every cell in our entire body. Monounsaturated fatty acids, for example, improves blood cholesterol and levels. This decreases the chances of developing heart disease. A healthy amount of fat in your diet also can improve cognitive function and energy levels. All in all, there is nothing to fear when it comes to fat. As with most dietary choices, it’s all about being mindful of what you’re consuming.
The Fat Ratio
The truth of the matter is, eating any one type of fat in excess is going to have its consequences. You want to consume fat but the key to fat consumption is making sure you’re eating the optimal ratio of fats, specifically Omega-6’s and Omega-3’s. While the ratio can vary from 1:1 all the way to 1:4, depending on the person, all body types should aim to reduce their intake of Omega-9.
How to Consume Fats Properly
- Avoid trans fats – Many processed/pre-packaged foods contains partially hydrogenated oils. Next time you are at the grocery store, take the extra second to check the ingredient list for it.
- Consume the proper ratio of fat – While the western diet has an average consumption of omega-6:omega-3 ratios ranging between 15:1 to 17:1, we should be aiming for a 1:1, no higher than 1:4 ratio. This means for every gram of omega-6 fatty acids someone consumes they should be consuming a gram of omega-3 fatty acids as well.
- Moderate your intake of Omega-9 – This doesn’t mean omega-9 fatty acids are by any means bad fat, however they are typically not as nutrient dense as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. 20% of our caloric intake be made up of protein (roughly 100 grams of protein), 60% carbohydrates, and the remaining 20% come from fat (roughly 40 grams) give or take according to the average standard, so chose wisely.
Eating a balanced diet can be challenging at first. Seeking professional help from a nutritionist is always helpful. Besides that, be sure to be mindful, check labels and be respectful to your body with every bite you take.