After years of being told that ‘fat’ is the enemy, we are starting to get our heads around the idea (popularised by the likes of Hemsley + Hemsley) that full-fat ingredients could actually be good for both us and our figures.
Low-fat, low-cal foods are often loaded with sugar, while our bodies actually need so-called ‘good’ fats to carry out basic functions and absorb minerals and vitamins effectively.
But how do we distinguish between the good, the not-so-bad and the ugly when it comes to ‘fat’ foods? Which ingredients should we add to our diets, and which need to be permanently removed from our fridges? Here, we offer a comprehensive guide on how to get your healthy fat fix…
THE GOOD FATS
There are broadly two types of beneficial fat: monosaturated and polyunsaturated. Monosaturated fats (such as olive oil) are commonly found in a classic ‘Mediterranean’ diet and experts recommend using them as much as possible to replace saturated and trans fats in your diet.
Polyunsaturated fats, meanwhile, are known as ‘essential’ fats, meaning they are required for normal body functions, including blood clotting and muscle movement. The two main types (Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids) are known to help reduce harmful cholesterol, prevent and treat heart disease and reduce blood pressure.
Find them in: olive oil, avocadoes, fish, nuts, seeds, vegetables.
THE IN-BETWEEN FATS
Saturated fats, while linked to health problems including raised cholesterol and heart disease, are naturally occurring and found in a whole host of foods, including meat and dairy.
While medical experts advise limiting the amount of saturated fat in your diet to below 20g per day, recent research has suggested this type of fat may be less harmful than originally thought, so can be enjoyed sparingly – that Friday night fillet steak might not be so bad after all.
Find them in: red meat, whole milk, coconut oil, cheese, butter, cream.
THE BAD FATS
Trans fats also contribute to insulin resistance, which raises your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Find them in: processed foods like biscuits, cakes, margarine, ice-cream, crisps and frozen pizza.