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Humans need fat for health, especially essential fatty acids that the body can’t manufacture. Eating the right ‘healthy’ fats will help to boost brain and memory function, improve skin tone and heart health, and lower bad cholesterol.

For many years however, fat was given lots of negative press with some research linking saturated fats (from things like red meat and eggs) with heart disease.

Paul Chek, founder of the C.H.E.K. Institute:

(Mankind) evolved on diets that, for the most part, were 50-80% animal and/ or fish. From 1910 to 1970, the percentage of traditional animal fats in the American Diet (can be broadly applied to UK and Australia) declined from 83 to 62%, and butter consumption plummeted from 18 pounds per person per year to 4 pounds. At the same time, the percent of vegetable and refined oils has increased approximately 400%.

Paul Chek
So what are the different types of fat, which are healthy, and which must we avoid?

Polyunsaturated fats

  • Chain of carbon atoms with multiple double bonds
  • Found mostly in nuts, seeds, fish, seed oils, and oysters
  • Include Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids (see below)
  • Liquid at room temperature; lowest melting point
  • HEALTHY – fresh fish, tahini (sesame seed), linseed oil, chia seeds, nuts (pine, brazil, walnuts)
  • AVOID – soy, corn and safflower oil (can release toxic chemicals when cooked over high heat)

Monounsaturated fats

  • Chain of carbon atoms with one double bond
  • Found in animal flesh such as red meat, whole milk products, nuts, and high fat fruits such as olives and avocados.
  • Include Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids (see below)
  • Liquid at room temperature; lower melting point
  • HEALTHYavocado, cold pressed/ virgin olive oil, nuts* (almonds, cashews, peanuts) *best to buy nuts in shells as will be fresher.
  • AVOID – canola oil (refined and 90% genetically modified)

Focus on getting your fats from whole, unprocessed or minimally processed organic animals, vegetables, nuts and seeds. if it wasn’t here 10,000 years ago, you probably aren’t designed to eat it!

Paul Chek

Saturated fats

  • Chain of carbon atoms “saturated” with hydrogen
  • Most often found in animal products such as beef, pork and chicken; also coconut oil
  • Solid at room temperature; high melting point
  • HEALTHY – butter, ghee, lard, coconut oil
  • AVOID – processed foods (baked and fried), palm oil (some think it’s cheap and unethically produced)

Trans-fats

  • Partially hydrogenated (adding hydrogen causes trans-fats to form)
  • Industrially created liquid oils such as margarine and shortening (typically used in baking)
  • Look more like plastics than fats
  • HEALTHY – none of these are!
  • AVOID – all hydrogenated oil/ all processed foods containing these oils – deep-fried takeaway foods, biscuits, pastries and potato crisps.

Omega-3 vs Omega-6

Both Omega-3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that can help to reduce your risk of heart disease. The body cannot produce these essential fatty acids on it’s own, so must be included as part of a balanced diet. The right balance will improve your levels of blood cholesterol, lowering LDL and increasing HDL. Include more Omega-3 rich foods to help lower heart rate and improve heart rhythm, decrease the risk of clotting, lower triglycerides and reduce blood pressure

The recommended ratio (Omega 3-6) is 1:2, but the reality for many people is 1:20. Aim to eat more Omega 3 foods and less Omega 6!

How much fat should I eat?
  • 20-35% of total energy should come from healthy fats.
  • Each person’s recommended intake of fat will vary according to lifestyle.
  • The more energy you burn, the more fat permitted in your diet, so ensure you exercise regularly too.

Top 10 reasons to eat more healthy fats

  1. Increases the feeling of satiety (prevents overeating)
  2. Boosts brain and memory function
  3. Reduces heart disease and bad cholesterol (LDL)
  4. Better skin health
  5. Important for bone health
  6. Important source of energy
  7. Protects the liver from alcohol and other toxins
  8. Makes up 50% of our cell membranes (giving stiffness and integrity)
  9. Helps to boost the immune system
  10. Rich in vitamins A and D.

Enjoy the health benefits, satiety and taste of real food and real fats.


References

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