The inclusion of fat in the diet has started to gain popularity, as people have realised the importance of fats. Fats are essential in the diet as they are needed for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, D, K). Fats contain nutrients such as omega-fatty acids, which have a variety of benefits from skin nourishing to anti-inflammatory properties.
In the UK, recommendations used to exist that suggested the average adult male (19-64 years) consumes less than 97g of total fat per day, whilst adult females should have no more than 78g of total fat per day. However, recommendations have now changed and focus mostly on saturated fat. It is recommended that men eat less than 30g saturated fat per day. For women, the recommendations are lower, at less than 20g of saturated fat per day.
- What Are Healthy Fats?
- Which Foods Contain Healthy Fats?
- Chia Seeds
- Coconut Oil
- Nut Butters
- Hemp Seeds
- Olive Oil
What Are Healthy Fats?
Some fats are considered to be better for you than others, so it’s important to understand the different types. Saturated fats are typically found in processed foods, dairy products and meat. Eating excess saturated fat can lead to a build-up of cholesterol in the body, which can clog blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease.
Trans fats, like saturated fats, can also lead to high cholesterol if consumed in excess. Trans fats are mostly found in hydrogenated vegetable oil, which isn’t commonly used in the UK.
Unsaturated fats are the ‘healthy’ fats; unlike saturated and trans fats, unsaturated fats can help to lower cholesterol when used instead of saturated fats. Unsaturated fats can be divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats typically contain omega fatty acids, which must be obtained through dietary sources.
Which Foods Contain Healthy Fats?
1. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are the perfect addition to smoothies or oats; alternatively, these can be used as a plant-based egg substitute in baking, due to their water absorbing qualities. Chia seeds are a great source of fibre and the omega-3 fatty acids called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
One tablespoon (15g) of chia seeds contains 5-6g total fats (ranges vary), mostly polyunsaturated fats. Chia seeds contain more omega-3 than omega-6 fatty acids; this is important, as omega-3 can be harder to come by compared to omega-6.