Fat is a major component of our diet but with one major drawback which finds its meaning in a favorite phrase : “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips”!
Experts however explain that our body needs the fat and mainly specific fats known as “good” fats. In fact eating the correct amount of fat from appropriate sources can gives us 2 benefits:
- We benefit regarding taste and variety in our meals
- As paradox as it may sound- it is likely to aid weight loss!
Why do we need fat?
It all began from the cave man who were looking for a concentrated source of energy that could ensure their physical survival. This of course, was no other than fat, food which with 9 calories per gram offered the necessary energy within a relatively short period of time.
Nowadays, even though our needs are quite different from those of the primitive man, we still need fat because:
- It is necessary for the performance of basic body functions
- It is a structural component of our cells
- It has the ability to transfer essential nutrients throughout the body.
Thus, vitamins like A, D, E and K are known as fat burning because their absorption and transport depend on the fat we receive through our diet. This means that, if you do not eat fat, these vitamins cannot be absorbed properly by your body.
So far so good. However, what is the other side of the coin?
What types of fats and how much should we consume after all?
According to the nutritionists’ recommendations, 25-35% of the calories we receive every day must come from fats, with the saturated ones not exceeding the 7% of our total calories.
An average person, in other words, who needs 2,000 calories per day should consume about 60g of fat a day, which must not all originate necessarily from the same fat sources (such as olive oil), but also from other groups of foods, such as fish, meat and milk. For example:
1. Mono unsaturated fats
They belong to the group of the so-called “good” fats, because it has been shown that their consumption protects from the appearance of various diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, thanks to their ability to slightly lower the cholesterol levels and maintain intact or even increase the “good” cholesterol.
Add to your meal:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (27 g . of fat, 239 calories)
- 1/4 avocado (7 g . of fat, 80 calories)
- 1 tablespoon sesame paste (8 g . of fat, 90 calories)
- 10 almonds (6 g . of fat , 70 calories)
2. Omega 3 fatty acids
They belong to the category of polyunsaturated fats, which are recognized as fats of good quality. Our diet is important to be rich in omega 3 fatty acids because our body cannot synthesize on its own all the omega 3 it needs.
Basically, they contribute to the reduction of blood pressure, thus protecting from cardiovascular diseases, reduce the total and “bad” cholesterol, assist in proper development and function of the brain, while helping the immune system.
Add to your meal:
- 180 gr . oily fish, e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardine, anchovy (8 g . of fat, 210 calories)
- 2 teaspoons linseed (2.9 g . of fat, 36 calories)
3. Omega 6 fatty acids
Ω-6 belong to polyunsaturated fats as well. Just like omega-3, they contribute to the development and proper function of the brain and stimulate the immune system, while also helping in the formation of hormones associated with the reproductive system.
Add to your meal:
- 1 teaspoon soft margarine (3.8 g of fat, 34 calories)
4. Saturated fats
They are known as “bad” fats, because surveys have associated them with the risk of cardiovascular diseases, as well as with various forms of cancer (e.g. , colon).
When we consume them in large quantities, they increase the levels of “bad” and total cholesterol. However, they are part of our diet and they have to be present in our meal, mainly as a food ingredient that provides us with beneficial nutrients as well, such as dairy.
Add to your meal:
- 1 glass low fat milk (2.5 g . of fat, 110 calories)
- 1 piece (30 gr.) low fat yellow cheese (4.5 g . of fat, 70 calories)
- 1 piece (100 gr.) cooked beaf (17 gr . of fat, 280 calories)
Is fat our ally in weight loss?
It is a fact that foods rich in fats are very tasty. Therefore, our longing for the taste of fat often makes us consume greater quantities than we should, while the second mistake that we make is that we prefer foods with high content in “bad” fat.
If, however, we introduced in our daily lives the correct types of fats and the appropriate quantities, we would eventually manage to take advantage of their precious ingredients, but also to get some help in our effort to lose weight.
How? The consumption of foods rich in “good” fats (e.g. , avocado, nuts) helps us combat hunger, since they keep us full, while at the same time, exactly because their taste pleases us, we don’t look for the rest of the day for “something to fill our stomach”.
Of course, this is achieved when we consume the “good” fats with prudence and moderation, since as mentioned above, fat is the most energy dense macro nutrient, whether it is “good” or “bad” fat.
The “bad” fat
Although fat can be our friend and ally, there are some kinds that should be avoided. These special categories are saturated and the trans fats.
The first originate from animal sources (e.g. , fatty red meat, butter) and the latter from sources such as crisps, French fries from fast food restaurants, resulting from the hydrogenation of vegetable oils (e.g. , sunflower).
Saturated and trans fats are recognized as harmful to our health since when consumed in large quantities they increase the total and “bad” cholesterol, while at the same time they reduce the “good”one, thus increasing the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases.
Also, trans fats have been accused of reducing the availability of vitamin K in the bones.
Eat fat but in moderation
“Good” or “bad”, fat should be eaten sparingly, as it gives us twice as many calories than protein and carbohydrates.