In my experience with people attempting to lose weight many of them are ‘fat phobic’ meaning they avoid eating fats in any shape or form. The problems that are associated with this are:-
- Fats are fairly sustaining and take a very long time to be digested keeping us fuller for long times – proteins are also good for this
- We need to carry fat soluble vitamins through our system and if we have no fat within the diet we cannot transport these fat soluble vitamins essential for our health.
- Our brain is a fat rich organ. Without fats in the diet it is likely that one will become depressed.
- Around every cell in our bodies (we have trillions of them) is a phospholipid layer made up of essential fats. The cell also contains a small amount of health promoting cholesterol in order to give it structure.
Generally, we are cutting back on these fats as they contain 9 calories per gram whilst carbohydrate and proteins only contain 4 and 3.8 respectively. This is folly though as we do need our good fats.
So what are the good fats:-
- Oily fish – as hunter/gatherers we had a lot of fish in the daily diet. Us Scots are thought to have eaten a lot of mackerel, herring and oatmeal.
- Game – because these animals are foraging in the wild these meats e.g. venison, partridge, pheasant contain omega 3 oils as well as being a source of lean protein as they have lots of muscle.
- Grass reared cows and sheep – if they are grass reared (sheep often are) they contain lots more omega 3 than grain reared varieties.
- Green vegetables contain some omega 3 as well as being a great source of many vitamins and minerals. It is little wonder that we are told to eat up our green veg. This includes cabbage, kale, sprouts, chard and spinach, watercress, parsley. etc.
- Avocado and wheat germ are good sources of Vitamin E which is an important antioxidant for the body and recycles vitamin C. It also speeds up metabolic rate so it’s helping weight loss
- Coconut, olive and rapeseed oil can all handle low temperature frying. As coconut is a saturated fat it can handle even higher temperatures. It does impart a flavour to the dish being cooked and is great for curries and tai dishes. It can also be used for baking when a coconut taste would add enjoyment to baked goods.
- The polyunsaturated oils e.g. sunflower, safflower, sesame are great but they must not be heated. They should only be used for salad dressings and mayonnaise types of dishes. We make our essential fats from these types of oils (as long as our diets contain all the necessary co-factors) so add them to salads in small quantities. They can also be used as dips for breads along with balsamic vinegars and are often flavoured to make them more appealing. The quality of the oil is really important as you can buy a lot of different grades. The supermarket oils in large plastic bottles are not good as they have been over processed and are stored in light and heat. You want to be buying small bottles of tasty oils in dark bottles so that the light can not easily enter and oxidise them.
- Nuts and seeds are great sources of good fats with pumpkin and walnut being good sources of omega 3. These can be added to breads and baked goods, stir-fries, used as nut butters rather than butter itself. They are mineral and fibre rich and also contain some protein. They can also be used in muesli and you can make your own interesting mixes and also eat a few as a snack if you become hungry between meals