We have all heard many myths in the past debating about how we should not be eating egg yolks, opting for skim/low fat milk and so on and so forth to cut fats in our diet. But truth is, fats are not problem, sugar is. Too much sugar that is found in junk/processed foods and sedentary are the major problem that leads to obesity.
Fats are essential in our diet because of the following roles they execute for our body to function at its optimum:
1. Acts as a carrier and a medium to transport and better absorb fat soluble vitamins such as A, D,E,and K.
2. Provides a readily energy source when needed
3. Protection of vital organs such as heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, spleen, brain and spinal cord
4. Provides thermal insulation to tolerate exposure to cold
5. Promotes satiety after meals and curb cravings for junk food
Saturated Vs Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Saturated Fatty Acids
Saturated fats are commonly found in Red meat -- beef, lamb, pork, Skin-on chicken and other poultry and dairy fats of milk, cream butter or cheese. They are also found in plants like vegetable shortening, coconut/palm oil, and hydrogenated margarine that are typically found in cakes, cookies and pies. Though I cannot emphasise enough that there is no particular "bad" food, however saturated fats are foods that I would strongly recommend to limit in your intake as research has shown that they are strongly associated with coronary heart disease and elevates cholesterol levels. In general, the recommended daily intake of saturated fats of no more than 10% of your total calories.
Unsaturated Fatty Acids Unsaturated fats are essential in decreasing blood cholesterol levels, promote healthy joint and brain functions. There are two types of unsaturated fatty acids - polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Polyunsaturated fats can be commonly found in sunflower, soybean and corn oil while monounsaturated fatty acids can be found in canola, olive and peanut oils, almonds, pecans and avocados, just to name a few.
Thus, it is recommended that our daily intake of fats should be predominantly be from unsaturated fatty acids as they lower coronary risk below average level.
Here are some examples of food sources containing Unsaturated fatty acids:
- Nuts (Almonds, Chia Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Flax Seeds, Walnuts etc)
- Salmon, Tuna or any other Fatty fish
- Olive, Canola, Peanut Oils
Point to take home:
Keep your recommended daily fats intake in between 34-38% in total calories! But if this is too specific, just make sure you eat in moderation of all things. Too much of a good thing is also a bad thing too. Remember, the your body knows best of what it needs, so listen to it.
A rule of thumb - "Eat til you are no longer hungry, not until you are full."