For decades, “fat” was the most shunned word in the dietary lexicon. From people looking to lose weight to bodybuilders working to build muscle, and everyone else ran a mile on hearing the term, “fat.” But, did you know that fats are an essential part of a healthy diet?
But, the catch here is that – not all fats are good. The smart strategy here is to identify the good ones from the “bad apple” fats. Include the correct portions of good, natural fats in your diet, to reap all the benefits of this most misunderstood diet staple.
First Things First, What Role Does Fat Play In Your Body?
Fat is a major source of fuel. In other words, it provides a lot of calories and is the main way you store energy in your body.
You need to include fats in your diet to carry certain nutrients to the cells-like Vitamin A, D, K (fat-soluble) and other antioxidants like beta-carotene, and lycopene.
Fat plays a key role in giving structure to your cells.
Omega-3 fats, a sub-type of fats is essential for optimum functioning of your heart, brain, and nerves.
Though fats provide more calories per gram compared to proteins and carbs, eating the right fats in the right quantity don’t make you fat.
Fats are also needed to regulate body temperature.
This brings us to the next section.
The Different Types Of Fats – And, Which Ones Should You Eat?
Various sources of fats abound in by nature in raw unprocessed form. However, modification and processing render it toxic. Let's understand these two types of fats- Good and Bad.
1) The Good Fats
Fats sources as provided by nature, unprocessed can be considered as good fats. Include the following in your diet as a source of good fat
Nuts like cashews, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts
These are is the real villains in the fat saga. Fats that are not a natural product and are produced as a byproduct of a process called hydrogenation are bad for you.
You may have seen refined oil or margarine packets with labels carrying the words hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. What is this process? Oil extracted from seeds is subjected to an industrialized chemical process in which hydrogen is added to liquid oils to turn them into a solid form. This transforms what was a healthy natural fat source into a ‘trans fat’ which is harmful and toxic to our bodies. Trans fats are easy to use, inexpensive to produce and have an extended shelf life. Processed food manufacturers prefer hydrogenated fats as it gives the foods a desirable taste and texture and the oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryers.
Regular consumption of trans fats present in refined foods containing sugar, salt, flour, and other processed and baked foods, along with stress, lack of exercise and a life away from natural elements like sunshine, fresh air is the real reason for fat accumulation in the body (toxemia).
How To Make Healthy “Fat” Choices?
Keep It “Au Natural.”
If you have a doubt as to what’s healthy and what’s unhealthy, we recommend you to take a look at nature. Animals in the wild, eat fatty foods like nuts, seeds, but, no one sees an overweight tiger or a gazelle. This is because nature doesn’t make us fat.
Only when we step away from the food of our ancestors and look for convenience in packaged and processed foods, we get caught in the vicious “fat cycle.”
To avoid piling on those extra kilos and suffering from a range of illnesses contributed by synthetic and chemically processed fats, try to include plenty of natural, wholesome and raw foods in your diet. This includes – fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, with a small quantity of grains and pulses.
Opt For A Nutty Affair
Instead, of snacking on foods laden with trans fats like – cakes, cookies, biscuits, chips, and other fried foods, consume walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds for snacks. However, while consuming nuts, make sure that you eat unflavoured, unroasted, unsalted and unprocessed nuts. This is because flavouring adds in sugar, sodium and other preservatives.
Sprinkle Seeds To Your Salads
Instead, of loading your salads with dressings try to sprinkle seeds like sunflower, pumpkin, chia, and ground flax seeds to give it a crunch, as well as to include healthy fats in your meals.
Don’t Go Zero Fat
One of the biggest draws of fat is that it’s high in calories and makes you feel fuller for a longer time. When you try to eliminate all fats (including the healthy ones) from your diet, you end up feeling hungrier, which leads to over-eating. A little amount of healthy fat helps to keep your waistlines trimmer.
And, remember that children and people engaged in heavy manual labour require more fats in their diet as they burn energy faster. So, instead of going zero fat, try to include the right amounts of healthy fats.
Read Food Labels
Foods marketed as “low-fat” like low-fat yoghurt and low-fat chocolates are usually rich in other processed foods like sugars and taste enhancers. So, make sure to read food labels, so that you don’t fall prey to “fancy marketing jargons.”
Don’t Mix Eating And Your Emotions
Very often, we tend to binge on fatty foods when we feel – lonely, depressed, stressed or even happy. Try to control your emotional eating and make sure that you have healthy food choices like nuts and seeds on hand, to snack on, when you feel bingeing.
Don’t Over Heat Fats
Fats used for cooking should not be overheated as fats if heated for a long time at high temperatures become toxic. So even the good fats turn into bad fats when overheated. It is best to have healthy fats unprocessed without application of heat. One should definitely avoid reheating fats when used for cooking.
Above All, Don’t Be Afraid Of Fat
Remember that fat isn’t the “major culprit.” An occasional indulgence doesn’t undo all your years of good eating habits and healthy lifestyle. Make sure to focus on what you eat regularly on a daily basis and stop feeling guilty over the one tiny cake you had a fortnight ago.
Any fat in natural form eaten in moderation upon hunger is good and won't cause weight gain. So, try to keep your diet as close as to nature, to reap all the benefits of clean eating and keep your body worries at bay.
You may want to read these two informative articles on fats from our blogs
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