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Fats Are Our Friend

Updated: May 9

Unfortunately fats have been demonised for many years. But the truth is that fats are vitally important for our health and they shouldn’t be feared.

In fact, as part of a well-balanced diet they have so many positive benefits including improved skin health, reduced inflammation, lower cholesterol, better cognition, hormone balance and weight loss.

But (sorry, there’s always a but)… it’s the type of fat that makes a difference.

  • Saturated fats These are the ones that are solid at room temperature so things like animal fat (pork crackling springs to mind here!), butter, coconut oil and cheese. They aren’t all bad, we do need them in our diet because they form part of our cell membranes. But we don’t need to eat them in large quantities. In excess they can contribute to weight gain, high cholesterol and inflammation. It’s even been shown that a diet high in saturated fats can have a negative impact on our friendly gut bacteria.

  • Unsaturated fats These are the healthy fats. The ones that we want to include in our daily diet (in moderation) in order to see the positive benefits mentioned above. You’ve probably heard of omega-3 and omega-6. It’s these fats that I’m talking about.

Ideally we want to see a ratio of 4 (omega-6): 1 (omega-3). A typical Western diet often has too much omega-6 relative to omega-3 though, with a ratio more like 20:1.

picture of healthy fats - walnuts and walnut oil

Whilst both are important, if the balance between them isn’t optimal it can lead to a state of inflammation.

There’s a couple of things we can do to address this

  1. Reduce our omega-6 intake by avoiding processed seed and vegetable oils which are high in omega-6. Some of the easiest ways to do this are by swapping vegetable oils for olive oil and reducing intake of deep fried and processed foods (most food manufacturers use vegetable oils in their products).

  2. Increase our intake of omega-3 rich foods such as oily fish, flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, seaweed, cod, mussels and green leafy vegetables.

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