Good fats

1 August 2014 by
First published: 2 August 2014

Good fats, bad fats, medium tryglycerides? Confused? Yup, we’re not surprised! We chat to Lola Biggs, dietician at Conscious Foods to get to the bottom of the fat stuff.

So why are ‘good’ fats so good for you?
‘Fat has a crucial role to play in every one of our body’s cells, yet our body can’t always produce the amount it needs by itself,’ says Lola. ‘We must therefore gain certain essential fatty acids from our foods. Whether a fat is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depends on how our body responds to it. A ‘good’ fat contains unique compositions and strains of fatty acids, which have been show to both reduce damage and improve repair systems in the body.’ So don’t automatically assume that ‘fat’ means ‘bad’!

How are they different to ‘bad’ fats?
‘The term ‘bad fat’ is not one that I personally use, due to its guilty connotations, but it generally refers to saturated fats, says Lola. ‘The ‘good’ fats, in contrast, are usually the monounsaturates and polyunsaturates. The way I like to explain the difference is that all fat types provide energy, but some provide other benefits and thereby have health benefits.’ Plus there’s the sugar issue. ‘There also tends to be a strong correlation between foods high in saturated fat and those high in sugar,’ says Lola. ‘It is this combination of unsaturated fat and sugar that is so damaging to our health.’

How often should you eat them?
‘Good fats should be eaten every day, in moderation, and as part of a balanced diet which includes other macronutrients,’ says Lola. ‘It’s this healthy balance that means a healthier you! Including small amounts of these good fats in each meal not only gives a taste boost, but helps your body to extract and absorb more of your food’s key nutrients.’ Sounds like these little beauties are gonna be on our menu a bit more often!

Will they make you put on weight if you eat too much?
‘Almost anything eaten in excess has its drawbacks,’ Lola. ‘Both good fats and bad fats provide the body with fuel, and if you’re not using that fuel, you will store it! The benefit of adding healthy fats to your food is that you’ll feel an increase in fullness between each meal. As we all know, reducing hunger can help control weight enormously.’

What’s the best way to include good fats in your diet?
‘Be creative, try to include them wherever you can,’ says Lola. And any little addition to your meals will do! ‘Whether a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over a salad or soup, or a sprinkling of flaxseeds,’ says Lola. ‘I like to mix avocados (a great source of good fat) with nutrient-dense vegetables such as kale to create a healthy salad.’ And add some lemon! ‘I always make sure to add lots of lemon juice to the mix. As well as its amazing flavour, lemon juice offers the most natural and effective way to release all of those nutrients from your salad!’ says Lola. ‘Rather like how saturated fats and sugar combine to damaging effect, the abundant Vitamin C in lemon juice and those good fats unite to help our body absorb more of the plant-based nutrients we feed it.’

Try these tasty recipes to get your fill :