What are Fats?

How are you feeling so far this week? Did you have an enjoyable weekend and did you get out and get moving? Did you feel better for it? How is your healthier eating progressing? Are you making those small, subtle changes that you can sustain long term? Have you swopped a not so good food out for a much healthier one? Nuts instead of crisps perhaps or a sweet treat for fruit? If so it’s a “well done” from me. Have you taken enough recovery after your workouts? And are you feeling focused for the week ahead of you. Let me know if I can help. Today’s Topic: What are Fats?

Fats and oils found in food consist mainly of triglycerides. These are made up of a unit of glycerol and three fatty acids. These fatty acids are classified in three different groups according to their chemical structure.

They are saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

In food proportions of each group determine whether the fat is hard or liquid, how it is handled by your body and how it affects your health.

Saturated Fats: Fats containing a high proportion of saturates are hard at room temperature and mostly come from animal products such as butter, lard, cheese and meat fat. Processed foods made from these types of fats include biscuits, cakes and pastries. Alternative to animal fats are palm oil and coconut oil. The department of health (DoH) recommends a saturated fat intake of no more than 10 % of total calorie intake.

Monounsaturated Fats: Oils rich in monounsaturates are usually liquid at room temperature but may solidify at cold temperatures. The richest sources include olive, rapeseed, groundnut, hazelnut and almond oil, avocados, olives, nuts and seeds. These types of fats are thought to have the greatest health benefits by reducing total blood cholesterol in particular LDL without effecting the good HDL levels. The DoH recommends 12% of your calorie intake. Polyunsaturated Fats: Oils rich in polyunsaturates are liquid at room and cold temperatures. Rich sources include most vegetable oils and oily fish. These types of fats can reduce the dangerous LDL blood cholesterol levels but they can also lower the good HDL cholesterol too. It’s wise to replace some of them with monounsaturated fat such as swop your vegetable oil for olive oil. The DoH recommends 10% of your calorie intake. Essential Fatty Acids: A sub category of polyunsaturated fats, called essential fatty acids, cannot be made by your body, so they have to come from the food that you eat. They are found in two groups: Omega 3 and Omega 6. Omega 3: is found in oily fish and is used for blood clotting, inflammation, immune system, regulation of hormones and blood flow. Studies have shown improved brain function, prevent Alzheimer’s, treat depression, lower the risk of heart attacks and improve ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia! Clever hey! For us gym bunnies Omega 3s increase the delivery of oxygen to muscles, improve aerobic capacity and endurance, speed up recovery and reduce joint stiffness. The government recommends 2 portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily which is approx 2 -3g of Omega 3 per week. Oily fish – mackerel, fresh tuna, herring, salmon, rainbow trout and sardines Linseeds, flax seed, flax oil, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, cod liver oil & rapeseed oil Dark leafy green veg such as kale, broccoli, spinach and soybeans Omega 6: is more widely found in food than Omega 3. 6’s are important for healthy functioning of cell membranes and healthy skin. However eating too much Omega 6 can lead to a proinflammatory state. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection and should be a temporary self protective response. Omega 6 overload can increase the risk of free radical damage (cancer), cardiovascular disease, stroke & arthritis. A low Omega 6 intake is suggested. Vegetable oils (soya, corn, safflower, sunflower, peanut or sesame), polyunsaturated margarine, fried food, cakes, stir-fry, biscuits and crisps. Nuts – a small amount of omega 6 is found in nuts but nuts have so many other benefits that it’s totally fine to continue eating them.

Fats should make up 20 -35 % of your total calorie intake (DoH) if you are an active person. Avoid spreads containing hydrogenated vegetable oil or partially hydrogenated oil. Avoid hard margarines and vegetable fats because they have the highest content of hydrogenated fats and trans fatty acids. Fitness Fact of the week Unsurprisingly alcohol is the diet downfall of most people. A bottle of wine totals about 500 calories, so you can undo a whole day’s good behaviour in one boozy night. Alcohol can encourage fat storage...it’s high in calories and puts undue stress on the liver. Alcohol calories can’t be stored and have to be used as they are consumed – this means that calories excess to requirements from other foods get stored as fats instead. Quote of the week “If we want to feel great tomorrow, we better make the right decisions right now” Keep active & see you soon Rosie

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