Last week, I attended a workshop regarding good fat and bad fat. As I love nutrition topics, I found it very interesting and I wanted to share what I learned.
First, let’s talk about calories:
- 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
- 1 gram of carbs = 4 calories
- 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
It can be scary for people trying to lose weight or are on a diet, however, although it is caloric, the human body needs fat to survive: it gives us the energy to move and perform daily tasks, to regulates the body’s temperature. It also plays a crucial role in the hormonal production and aging cells (if you eat the right amount of good fat, you will look younger). Finally, the fat macro should be around 40% of the total daily intake and if the body does not get enough fat, it tends to binge on… sugar! (which promotes obesity, cancer, and other related diseases).
There are 3 types of fat:
- Unsaturated acids: This is the good fat, which prevents cardiovascular diseases and bad cholesterol. These acids divide into 3 categories:
- Omega 3: there are 3 types of Omega 3 (ALA, DHA, and EPA but these are very technical), commonly found in fish (macros, sardines, herring, salmon, fresh tuna), eggs, peanut butter, milk, flaxseeds, oatmeal, kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower… It helps to increase good cholesterol (and therefore decrease the bad one, as well as reduce cardiovascular diseases, inflammations, and enhance overall mental health).
- Omega 6: found in oils (nuts, grapefruit, seeds), hemp seeds, pine nuts, pistachios, and acai. It is good for the heart, as long as eaten in moderation (too much omega 6 promotes inflammation).
- Omega 9: found in organic oils (olive and linseed oils which is very good for women), avocado, almonds (raw or butter), hazelnuts and raw cashews. It has the same positive effects as Omega 3, it increases energy, brain function, and good mood.
However, the body cannot absorb Omega 3 and 6 at the same time and it will automatically give the priority to Omega 6. Therefore, the body ends up with more Omega 3 than Omega 6, which promotes inflammation. This is why nowadays we see products such as butter or margarine labeled “Omega 3 – decrease the risk of heart diseases and promotes good cholesterol”. Through this is purely marketing, it is good to check the Omega 3 and 6 ratios.
- Saturated fat: This is the average fat. Since a week, I am checking at all the nutritional information of what I normally eat, and there is always a bit of saturated fat everywhere. It is non-avoidable completely so the best is to keep an eye on it. I found it on my organic crackers, cookies, as well as in common meats, butter or creams.
- Trans fat: this is the bad fat, to avoid. It is called “trans” because factories that manufactures such products uses hydrogen to transform the oil from liquid to solid, using high temperatures and chemicals. This fat promotes obesity, diabetes, increase bad cholesterol and decrease the good one in the body and therefore increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It can mainly be found in products that contains “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” in their ingredients list, such as for example soft bread, deep fried food, donuts and frozen pizzas.
Concretely, in order to be healthy, the human body needs fat, especially since it does not bring body fat. Actually, if the body receives more energy than it spends, it will store it as fat, for later (no matters if it is proteins, fats or carbs). This said, fat is necessary for bodies to function, as much as carbs and proteins, because it gives us energy.
Salmon and avocados are therefore great for good fat, as well as nuts and seeds. We know that nowadays, fish can be toxics because of mercury. To limit the mercury absorption, it is better to eat smaller fish (less mercury than fatter ones who eat the smaller ones). The best salmon is the Scotland organic one, not treated with antibiotics in fish farms.
To cover 100% of the daily needs in Omega 3, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds are enough (Hello puddings!). Two types of chia seeds exist: Black and white ones. There are no nutritional differences, the black ones seem to have more taste and the white ones are a bit more caloric. Finally, chia seeds help with the transit.
If you want to go further, in order to have a “good diet”, eat more fruits (2 per day is good, based on the sugar it contains), lots of vegetables, nuts (for example 10 almonds as a snack is perfect), proteins (sorry I will not promote to eat lean meat here but if you do, that’s good. Otherwise vegetarian proteins, as well as fish and eggs are some very good options and no – eggs do not raise the bad cholesterol level). Finally, drink plenty of water and exercise for 30 minutes, ideally daily (30 mins of walking counts!).