If you haven’t noticed, I’m trying something new with my graphics. I like to change things up every once in awhile 😉
So anyways, I’ve been thinking about writing a post like this for awhile now, but I was trying to think of the best way to approach it. I’ve written posts about how eating fat can help with weight loss, but I wanted to touch more specifically on the difference between fats.
To truly touch on every aspect of this topic, I would be writing a book rather than a blog post. My goal is to peel back the layer of generic health claims and help you understand the role that fats play in our everyday lives.
First, it is important that you understand the difference between fats. The varieties of fats found in food are trans-fats, saturated, polyunsaturated (aka PUFA), and monounsaturated (aka MUFA). I’m sure you’ve heard of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids; those are types of polyunsaturated fats.
Generally speaking, you want to avoid trans-fats and saturated fats. MUFAs and PUFAs are going to be the fats that you want to focus on incorporating into your daily diet. I feel like the media focuses mostly on the negative effects of eating fat… this is important, don’t get me wrong, but I also think it’s important to talk about why fats can be good for you.
MUFAs can promote healthy blood lipid profiles (LDL, HDL, Triglycerides), help regulate glucose levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce blood pressure. There is even some evidence that they may reduce the risk of depression. MUFAs can be found in items such as olive or canola oil, nuts, and avocados.
We also have PUFAs that are an important part of a healthy diet. PUFAs are similar to MUFAs, except they have 2 or more double bonds (MUFAs have one). They are broken down more specifically into omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Now bare with me for a moment, because there’s a bit of a caveat here. If omega-6’s are PUFAs and PUFAs are healthy for us, then omega-6’s must be healthy too, right? Well yes, they are, BUT, only if they are in the right proportion to omega-3 fatty acids. I know, it’s confusing…
Omega-6’s are found in sources such as corn, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed and soy oils. Although they are helpful in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, when they are ingested in abundance, without balance, they also have the ability to contribute to the progression of atherosclerosis. So how do you balance them? By getting enough omega-3’s.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also a type of PUFA. The types of omega-3 fatty acids can be further broken down into the following categories: EPA, DHA, and ALA (I’m not going to bore you with the long technical names). EPA and DHA are the 2 types of omega-3’s that are naturally found in cold water fish including tuna, salmon, mackerel, sturgeon, anchovy, sardines, herring, and trout, to name a few. ALA is found in plant foods such as flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans.
In terms of health benefits, Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation, lower blood triglyceride levels, and improve mental health. Recommendations from the American Heart Association include consuming about 12 ounces of oily fish per week (for those who do not have coronary heart disease!). If you’re not a fan of fish, don’t worry I have a solution for you.
Okay, so now what does all this mean? To sum everything up, don’t be afraid of fats. Eating healthy fats from sources such as nuts, seeds, avocados and fish can improve various aspects of your health. As I mentioned above, if you are someone who doesn’t like fish, I highly recommend a fish oil supplement.*
I know there are a ton on the market and it can be confusing, so always research before you buy. My personal favorite that I use are these, “Full-mega” fish oil pills from 1stphorm. You can check them out here for yourself.*
What confuses you when it comes to fats?
*denotes affiliate link