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Good Fat vs Bad Fat

Hi there, I’ve been doing some research into Good Fats and Bad fats. For my height of 5.5 and weight of 8st 10lbs I understand a fat in take of about 70g a day is good. I have been eating fatty foods such as butter, milk, cheese and ice cream, but making sure I kept to, or below to 70g. However I now understand that this 70g allowance is supposed to be made up mainly of good fats, and only about 20g of bad fats. My questions are: Have I understood this correctly? Should be striving to eat the full quota of healthy fats a day? And how did information ever get so muddled that its possible to lump something you should eat with something you shouldn’t eat into one category?! I ask this last question as I have what I thought was a brilliant calorie and fat counting app, but it counts ‘Fat’ as one figure and does not count Saturated and Unsaturated fat separately.

Answer:

Hi, thanks for your question. Unfortunately it does sound like this app you are using is a little bit misleading. I am not a big fan of calorie counting, as in my opinion a calorie is not just a calorie. Calories can come from proteins, fats and carbohydrates, all of which have a completely different metabolic effect. Not only that, different types of protein, different types of carbs or fat also have different metabolic effects. If you consumed the same amount of calories everyday for a month, but each month ate most of those calories from a different food group, you would notice your body react quite differently. For this reason I would not spend too much time focusing on calories. It should be used as a guideline, but not as a basis for a healthy diet. In regards to your other questions, fat has gotten a bad reputation ultimately because of our assumption that the fat we eat correlates in some way to our own body fat. However in most cases it is other dietary habits that lead to fat gain, and in most cases it is over consumption of simple carbohydrates that is the cause. Fats come in many different varieties, just like carbohydrates, you have simple carbs, complex carbs and there are many different types of fats. We need fats to function but getting the right balance is important, Omega-3 fatty acids we cannot produce, so we must consume them from food sources such as fish, flax seeds or walnuts. Omega-3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat. Other good fat sources are monounsaturated fats such as Olive oil. Olive oil has many beneficial substances in such as phytosterols and anti-oxidants, these nutrients have been linked to variety of health benefits including improving cholesterol levels. You might be interested to know that Olive oil can contain around 15% saturated fat. Saturated fat is the fat that we are all told to avoid but as you see it can be found in one of the healthiest of foods. Whilst there have been many studies highlighting that we should reduce our consumption of saturated fat, there are a few conflicting studies. At the moment I would suggest to minimise saturated fat consumption from animal sources, i.e. butter, fatty cuts of meat or processed meat products. The most important fats to avoid are hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Generally these are manufactured fats that have been made via an industrial process. They should be avoided at all costs, as they have no nutritional benefit and they have been linked to a variety of negative health issues. They tend to be found in processed goods, candies, chocolate bars, cakes, sweets and other confectionary. One very important thing to note is due to food labelling standards in some countries, manufacturers are able to list 0% fat on a product if it contains less than 1 gram of hydrogenated fat. So if it contains 0.5 grams it they can display 0% fat on the label, however they must still list it in the actual ingredients list. In this case it always pays to read the label! To summarise, I would not concern yourself with trying to consume a target amount of good fats, but what you do need to do is certainly minimise bad fats and try to make sure you do eat some sources of good fats each and every day. Try to consume oily fish such as salmon or sardines 2-3 times a week, include a variety of seeds, nuts, grains and avocado’s, make your own salad dressing with extra virgin olive oil and you will go a long way to making sure your diet is rich in good fats.

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