An Expert Guide To Healthy Fats

The tide has finally turned on fat, with countless studies proving it can speed up your metabolism, control inflammation and support brain health. But how are you supposed to recognise the good fats from the bad? We went to three nutritionists to find out.
By Tor West /

Clarissa Lenherr says…

Nutritionist

Healthy Fats Come In Two Forms

“A high intake of saturated fat has been linked to higher levels of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, which can put you at a heightened risk of heart disease. The body still needs some saturated fats, but you should eat no more than 20g per day – these types of fat are easy to spot as they are solid at room temperature and are also found in coconut and dairy. On the other hand, healthy fats come in two forms: monounsaturated fats, found in the likes of olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado; and polyunsaturated fats, which contain omega-3 fatty acids and promote brain and heart health. You can find these in oily fish, walnuts and flaxseeds. This isn’t to say you can’t enjoy some saturated fats – just make sure most of the time what you eat is from unsaturated sources.”

Eating Fat Can Make You Lean

“If you feel hungry after a meal or want to snack an hour or two after a meal, this could be a sign you’re not eating enough fats to keep you full. In fact, fats keep you fuller for longer than protein or carbs – they increase satiety and reduce the GI impact of a meal or snack to keep blood sugar levels stable. In fact, large studies show that increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids – think salmon, mackerel, walnuts and flaxseeds – may be useful for suppressing appetite, enhancing fat burning and reducing body fat.”

Two Tablespoons At Each Meal Is All You Need

“Fat is essential for the body, but that doesn’t mean more is merrier. Aim to include some form of fats at every meal – around two tablespoons is great. This is equivalent to half an avocado, whole eggs with the yolk, one cupped handful of nuts, or one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Aim to eat fatty fish – salmon, mackerel, anchovies and sardines – two to three times a week. If you’re a fan of nut butter, mix things up with tahini – it can be blended in a smoothie or drizzled over roasted vegetables.”

Eat Them Earlier In The Day

“Balance is a sexy message, but it’s the best nutrition approach to have. When it comes to the timing of eating fats, try to get them earlier in the day if possible, as they’ll provide you with energy that can be used throughout the day. Due to fat’s satiating qualities, it will also help tide you over until your next meal and minimise cravings. Be wary of eating a fat-rich meal late in the evening. Fat takes longer to digest than protein and carbs, meaning it can lead to reflux and bloating if eaten too late.”

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A SMALL AMOUNT of saturated fat IS OKAY, but make sure most of the time what you eat is from unsaturated sources.
Clarissa

Pippa Campbell says…

Nutritionist

Some Fats Are Unhealthy

“These include trans fats and inflammatory vegetable oils. Unfortunately, these fats have increased in our diet, and contribute to inflammation, which plays a role in nearly every chronic disease on the planet. Artificial trans fats are a real worry – they’re used extensively in fried and baked foods, biscuits, icing, cakes and packaged foods. Trans fats are worse than any other type of fat, and research has shown that even small amounts of artificial trans fats can increase the risk of heart disease by increasing ‘bad’ cholesterol and decreasing ‘good’ cholesterol.”

The Ketogenic Diet Isn’t Necessarily A Great Idea

“The keto diet – a high-fat diet based on restricting carbs instead of calories – has had lots of press recently but it’s not necessarily the best diet for women as it can impact the production of thyroid and stress hormones. Many women are also prone to a sluggish gallbladder so may struggle to break down fats, especially when eaten in high, keto-level proportions.”

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Is Underrated

“Food trends come and go, but extra virgin olive oil has been out of favour for years now, which is mad as it’s one of the world’s healthiest fats and most potent superfoods. Social media is all about MCT oil (which is distilled from coconut oil) but extra virgin olive oil is even more powerful and easily available. Tins of oily fish are also a great source of healthy fats – Fish4Ever is a great brand but be sure to buy tinned fish in spring water or brine instead of oil as toxins in the plastic lining of tins can leech into oil easily. Fatt Bars and Keto Hana bars are also great on-the-go healthy fat snacks.”

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COCONUT OIL has been given a false halo as being the healthiest fat, but it contains MORE SATURATED FAT than butter.
Charlotte

Charlotte Lily Thompson says…

Nutritionist

Dry Skin Could Be A Sign You’re Not Getting Enough

“Although it’s rare in the UK to be deficient in fats, classic signs of a deficiency include dry, scaly skin and dry, brittle hair. For females, if body fat drops too low for a sustained amount of time, this can also lead to amenorrhoea, which is when you stop getting your monthly period. Remember – fats are the building blocks of hormones, specifically saturated fat and cholesterol. The higher quality the fat, the better your body will function.” 

Coconut Oil Isn’t Everything

“Coconut oil has been given a false halo as the healthiest fat, but it contains more saturated fat than butter. Enjoy it in moderation rather than as part of your daily intake.”

What You Cook With Matters

“Many of us would benefit from becoming more cooking oil savvy. Oils all have different ratios of saturated to unsaturated fats, nutrient profiles, and smoke points (the temperature at which potentially harmful chemicals are released). Sunflower and rapeseed oil have the highest smoke points making them better for roasting and frying, whereas olive oil has a lower smoke point so is better used for dressings and cooking at temperatures under 165°C.” 

Checking Food Labels Is Important 

“For years, fat-free products claimed to help people lose weight fast and keep it off. Studies now show sugar is the culprit behind weight gain, so think twice about buying low-fat products. Dairy often gets a bad rep, but full-fat dairy is an important source of nutrients, including iodine which is vital for thyroid function (around a third of us are deficient) and calcium. Low-fat versions tend to be full of added sugar, so get into the habit of checking food labels.” 

Nuts Are An Easy Way To Top Up Your Intake
“One serving of almonds provides an impressive 13g of unsaturated fat and just 1g of saturated fat. Almonds are also a source of plant protein, and are high in fibre, vitamins E and B2, potassium and iron. They’re versatile, too – roast them with different seasonings and add them to salads or have a large handful as a snack (around 30g). Studies also show almonds can keep you full – one study found that a mid-morning snack of almonds (compared to no snack) helped control appetite and reduced calorie intake for participants for lunch and dinner. There are also incredible studies that show regularly eating almonds can significantly improve the appearance of wrinkles after 24 weeks.”

Visit GentleFigNutrition.com & follow @GentleFigNutrition 

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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