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Your Guide To Dietary Fats.



What is the first thing you think of when I say “eat more fat”?


Would you think of gaining weight, feeling heavy or a lot of negatives?


Women have been told that eating more fats is a “NO NO”, but there is a big difference between eating fatty take-away food and good quality fat dense foods that are nourishing to your body. Dietary fats are the tastiest foods, and we should celebrate eating them in your day because they make your body work effectively.


Eating the right amount of dietary fats is essential for the optimal health of a woman’s body. It’s one of the three main macronutrients and the most energy dense compared to carbohydrates and protein.


Knowing the healthy choices to pick from and being able to navigate your way around what dietary fats are beneficial for you will help to support your health and longevity.


Dietary fats are referred to as triglycerides which are also called essential fatty acids.

They are classified as short, medium, long, and very long chain.

  • Short-chain fatty acids are mostly made by our gut bacteria and taken up by the liver where there’re stored as energy. Primarily in dietary fibre like kiwifruit, avocado, beetroot and sweet potato. Also, resistant starch like oats, green banana, cooked and cooled potatoes.

  • Medium-chain fatty acids improve your metabolic function and cognition. Primarily in coconut oil and dairy products.

  • Long and very long-chain fatty acids are digested and absorbed in our bloodstream and released as energy into cells as needed. Primarily olive oil, oily fish, avocado and nut oils.

Another classification of dietary fats is by their chemical structure which determines their stability when ingested in the body which can be unhealthy or healthy.


The familiar terms you might recognise are:

  • Monounsaturated fats

  • Polyunsaturated fats

  • Saturated fats

  • Trans fats

You might be wondering why you would need to know which fats to choose, and the reason is because they all have different health benefits, some detrimental to your health while others beneficial to our health.


So, here are some health benefits of dietary fats and what foods to find them in:


  • Monounsaturated fats are omega 9 essential fatty acids and the most common in our diet as they’re found in plant and animal foods such as olive oil, macadamia nuts, peanuts, avocado, pork, and beef. They support heart health and blood glucose regulation.


  • Polyunsaturated fats are omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids and are best known in foods like salmon, oily fish and flaxseed which contains EPA/DHA that are anti-inflammatory and support heart health.


  • Saturated and Trans fats are often referred to as ‘bad fats.’ They are often used in processed and fried foods because they are stable in higher heat. Although, saturated fats in moderation like coconut oil may have positive metabolic health benefits.


What benefits do dietary fats have for women’s health?


  • Hormone health – they are utilised as the building blocks to form reproductive hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.


  • Brain function – they can assist with stabilising your mood, memory, and cognition.


  • Supporting metabolism – they take longer to digest than protein and carbohydrates, keeping you fuller for longer and when you’re filling up on dietary fats your carbohydrate intake usually reduces starting to speed up your body’s ability to burn fat for energy rather than glucose.


Cooking with oils and fat dense food also requires some consideration as they are sensitive to heat, light and oxygen which can cause them to become rancid and carcinogenic. For example, using olive oil to drizzle over a salad and ghee when you’re cooking, as olive oil is more sensitive to heat therefore healthier on cold foods.


Some other healthy swaps include:


  • Replace margarine with ghee or butter

  • Replace vegetable oil with olive oil

  • Replace canola oil with coconut oil


Depending on your health and fitness goals the average daily amount should make up 20% to 35% of your daily food intake. For example, a woman doing daily walking with a desk job would be aiming for around 60 grams of dietary fat.


Here are some ideas to help you measure 20 grams of dietary fat:


  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup cashew nuts or almonds.

  • 1/2 a large avocado.

  • 2 tbsp. pure peanut butter (no added fillers).

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil.

  • 150 grams salmon.

  • 100 grams grilled steak.

  • 10 macadamia nuts.

As you can see, consuming dietary fats in your daily eating strategy and making sure you’re getting enough in your day is important because it’s not just about eating dietary fats, it’s also about the quality and quantity.


And that’s worth knowing.




To your health and wellness.



Marianne



BHSc Naturopathy, CCL Massage & Beauty Therapy, Cert III Fitness





Reference


Australian Government Nutrient Reference Values, (2022). Fats: total fat and fatty acids. https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/fats-total-fat-fatty-acids


Grech, A., Rangan, A., & Allman-Farinelli, M. (2018). Macronutrient Composition of the Australian Population's Diet; Trends from Three National Nutrition Surveys 1983, 1995 and 2012. Nutrients, 10(8), 1045. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10081045



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