Your Quick Fire Guide To Dietary Fats

What are they and which do we need?

Fats are the most calorie dense of the macronutrients, containing 9 Kcals per gram. A diet high in fat is often associated with negative health outcomes such as increased body weight, increased cholesterol and an increase risk of heart attacks and strokes.

However this is only true if we are over consuming the wrong types of fats.

Fats are commonly classified into saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated fat can then be further classified as mono or polyunsaturated and there is also a 3rd type of fat to be aware of known as trans fat.

“Good Fats”

Unsaturated fats are the fat we should active aim to include in the diet.  Characteristically these fats tend to be liquid at room temperature and come from plants.
Examples of Mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) include:

- Avocado
- Nuts
- Olive oil
- Rapeseed oil  
- Fish oils
- Seeds

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) include Omega-3 & Omega-6 and include  

- Sunflower seeds
- Oily fish
- Walnuts
- Flaxseeds
- Vegetable oils such as sunflower oil and corn oils

“Bad Fats”

Saturated fats are solid at room temperate and generally come from animal sources. Saturated fat shouldn’t be totally avoided but it’s recommended that only around 11% of total kcal intake should come from saturated fat each day.
Foods that are high in saturated fat include

- Meat, especially processed meat products such as sausages, burgers, bacon, chicken nuggets etc
- Cakes  
- Biscuits
- Crisps
- Coconut oil
- Butter

Trans Fats

These are the final group to the aware of but aren’t too important as there is very little food in the UK that contains trans fats and many countries now ban trans fats. These are also known as “artificially hardened vegetable oils” meaning the are liquid fats which have been chemically altered to be solid at room temperature. Increased consumption of these is associated with raised “bad” cholesterol and risk of stoke and heart attacks. To avoid these its best to generally avoid over consumption of

- Packaged cakes & doughnuts
- Frozen pizzas
- Pies
- Fried food & some take aways

3 tips for a better balance of fats

1. Don’t aim for less total fat but instead aim for less processed foods and therefore less saturated fats
2. Include a variety of nuts and seeds in the diet (this is also great for gut health)
3. Aim to include Oily fish in the diet at least once per week or consider introducing an omega-3 fish oil or vegan supplement

Hope that helps,


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