For many years fat has been blamed for our health problems and the rise in obesity. Now we are being told to eat fat again and cut out sugar. It’s good news as far as I am concerned as I’ve never been anti-fat but I have been sugar free for over 25 years.
I remember when I trained as a nutritional therapist being taught that fat was needed for the gall bladder to empty. The bile which is released from the gall bladder contains toxicity which is being eliminated from the body. In other words low fat diets can cause us to hold on to toxicity. Since then I have always eaten fat but in sensible amounts and it must be the right kind of fat.
So what is the right kind of fat? To simplify fat can be divided into three groups, saturated fat, mono-unsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. The polyunsaturates can then be sub-divided into two groups, the W3 series which we all need more of and the W6 series which most people eat too much of. The W3 series can be found in fish, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables and if we eat these as fresh foods and avoid processed and ready-made foods which often contain too much W6 oils then we will keep in balance.
Saturated fat comes mainly from animal products such as meat, eggs, cheese, butter and cream. These are the fats we need to limit, though not necessarily avoid. Coconut oil is the most saturated fat of vegetable origin and although it is best not to over consume coconut oil, it consists of mainly medium chain fatty acids which are easier for the body to process and can be quickly absorbed to use as energy. Because of this coconut oil is thought to boost metabolism and therefore helps us to lose weight rather than gain it. Coconut oil is also stable when heated so is the best oil to use for frying or baking.
Olive oil and olives are a good source of mono-unsaturated fats which are linked to the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil helps prevent inflammation (as do the W3 series oils) which is the basis to so many health problems. Olive oil is not stable when heated to high temperatures so it is best used for dressing salads and vegetables or when gently sweating food at lower temperatures.
One of the main advantages of fat is that it slows the transit time of food so keeps you feeling full for longer. However too much fat or the protein that often goes with it can slow the transit of food to the point where it hangs around in the body for too long. As always in life, the art is to find a balance