If you want to know the best fats for optimal health, this article will show you good and bad fats.
Are you confused about which fats are good or bad? Well, that doesn’t surprise me – there’s a lot of conflicting information about fats on the web.
Some myths just won’t die. The biggest one is that “fat makes you fat”, you’d think by now everybody knows that’s not true. But I still see books and articles advocating for low-fat diets for faster weight loss.
Anyway, just stay away from such advice and you’ll be fine. Fats play a major role in weight loss and overall health. They help absorb other nutrients you consume, balance hormone levels, maintain cell structure, and much more.
But you won’t benefit from any kind of fats. Eating bad fats can lead to heart disease, weight gain, depression and other diseases.
In this article I’ll share the fats you should eat and the ones to stay away from.
First, let’s look into the two essential fatty acids for humans.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids
These two are essential for life and we have to eat them because the body can’t make them. It’s also important to eat the right ratio of these fatty acids.
A poor ratio of Omega 3s and Omega 6s can cause inflammation and damage to immune system.
Omega 6 fatty acids are easy to obtain – we get them from eggs, cereal, vegetables and other numerous sources. But omega 3s are harder to get and most folks don’t consume enough.
The U.S government recommends a ratio of 20:1 for Omega 6s and Omega 3s respectively. But this ratio is based on old data and it’s too high. Recent studies show that ratios of 2:1 and 3:1 help reduce inflammatory diseases and enhance weight loss. In fact you should aim for a 1:1 ratio.
To maintain a good ratio – you can either increase intake increase the intake of Omega 3s or lower the intake Omega 6s. But it’s hard to do the latter because many foods contain Omega 6s, so your best bet is to increase the intake of Omega 3s.
Good fats and bad fats
Include these foods in your diet:
Seafood – Cold-water fish fat from salmon, herring, sardines and shellfish like shrimp, scallops, krill, oysters, and crab. These foods high Omega 3s and low in Omega 6s. These are polyunsaturated fats – other sources of polyunsaturated fats include nuts and flax-seed.
Monounsaturated fats – The best sources include olive oil, macadamia nuts, and avocado.
Saturated fats – For years, saturated fats have gotten a bad rap but new studies show they don’t increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Eat saturated fats from grass-fed beef – it can be in different forms like – fatty meat, butter, cheese, ice cream and raw milk. Saturated fats are also found in coconut oil. In fact, coconut oil has myriad health benefits and it’s the best oil for cooking.
Saturated fats have a good ratio of omega 3s to omega 6s but not as good as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats – most of the fats you eat should come from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Stay away from these fats:
Corn oil, soybean oil, almond oil, peanut oil, and any other vegetable oil I didn’t mention in the good fats section. Note that almonds nuts are healthy and contain many nutrients but the process of extracting fat from the nuts contaminates the oil.
Seed oils – Safflower seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cottonseeds, and rapeseeds are all too high in omega-6 fatty acids.
Trans fats – these are basically processed saturated fats. They raise LDL cholesterol, which clogs the arteries and lower HDL the good cholesterol, which cleans the arteries. You’ll find trans fats in fried foods, popcorns, cakes, pizza, cakes and restaurant foods. Even the vegetable oil in the supermarket labeled ‘healthy’ is not healthy.
Now, if you can’t afford to cook with olive oil or coconut oil – put very little vegetable oil in your food. Because studies show that long-term use of trans fats can cause inflammation, insulin resistance, and type II diabetes risk – especially for overweight folks.
Try to get most of the fats from real food but since there are limited sources of Omega 3s, supplementing may be necessary.
Krill oil and fish oil supplements are the best sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. When buying these oils check the labels to confirm they don’t contain mercury.
Recommended daily fat intake
A gram of fat contains 9 calories. So you should eat fats moderately, otherwise, you’ll gain weight.
The amount of fat you should eat will depend on your caloric needs. Use percentages to come up with the grams you should eat. 25-30 percent of you total daily calories should come from fats.
Here’s how to calculate the amount of fats you should eat– if you consume 1800 calories a day, 30% of 1800 is 600 calories. Now, let’s convert calories to grams – which is 600/9 = 66 grams of fat. That’s it!
Now, apply the same formula to your daily caloric intake to find out the number of grams of fat you should consume.
Benefits of good fats
Faster fat loss
Studies show that fats improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation – omega 3s make all body cells more sensitive to insulin, resulting in a faster metabolism.
Omega 3s also improves functions of thyroid hormone, testosterone, and estrogen. Once hormones are balanced it’s easier to lose fat and stay lean. Because the genes involved in fat burning are activated and genes which store fat are turned off.
Lastly, fats are filling and eating them with high fiber foods like proteins can keep hunger at bay and even curb cravings.
Improves muscle growth
The ability of omega 3s to reduce inflammation and regulate hormones fastens muscle recovery and improves the rate of muscle growth. This study conducted on young and middle-aged men and women found that consumption of omega 3s improved rate of muscle growth by 1-2 percent.
Improves brain function and reduces depression
70 percent of the brain is made of cholesterol and fat, and most of it comes from fatty acids. The fat layers in the brain affect your mood and memory.
Low fat intake reduces fat in the brain and lowers brain function. In fact, one of the most popular side effects of low-fat diets is depression and stress.
Reduces risk of numerous diseases
Consuming enough fats reduces the risk of diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and so on.
Improves fertility and sex life
Consumption of good fats balances hormone levels and consequently improves fertility and boosts libido. In fact, low fat intake is one of the causes of infertility in women.
Fats have been demonized for years but we need them to stay healthy and lean. Make sure you get enough omega 3s and stay away from bad fats.
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