By Angela Bekiaris
While we all tend to want to eat everything fat-free, you should really be including fats into your diet; knowing which fats to include is the key. Personal trainer Kayla Itsines gives us the low-down on good fats and bad fats.
Types Of Fats
There are four types of fats: saturated, monounsaturated, trans fats and polyunsaturated. “Each type of fat has a different structure and it has different physical properties – which is why some are better for different cooking methods,” explains Itsines. “It’s important to remember that fat is higher in energy than other nutrients,” she adds. “That means if you are eating large amounts of fats (including healthy fats) it can contribute to weight gain.”
There are two main types: monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fat, when eaten in moderation, can have a positive effect on your heart as it helps reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood. These fats include olive oil, olives, peanut oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats can also help reduce bad cholesterol. “Oils rich in polyunsaturated fats can also add vitamin E to your diet, which is an important antioxidant,” explains Itsines. Foods particularly rich in polyunsaturated fats are sesame and sunflower oil, salmon and other oily fish, flaxseeds and walnuts.
These are very low on benefits. They are divided into saturated fat and trans fat. Saturated fat comes mainly from animal sources of food – meat products and full-fat dairy products like cheese and yoghurt. “Saturated fat may raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which in turn, may increase your risk of heart disease,” says Itsines, adding, “Eating too much saturated fat may also put you at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.” However Itsines does add that your body needs a certain amount of saturated fat for healthy brain and lung function, liver health and to support the immune system. “Eating foods with trans fats can not only increase levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, they can also decrease the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol – which can increase your risk of heart disease,” explains the celebrity trainer. Trans fats are often found in deep-fried foods or fast foods, pastries, margarine and biscuits.
What Are Fat-Free Foods?
According to Itsines, fat-free foods were created ‘in order to ease the mind of consumers who were worried about their weight, having been told they need to reduce their fat intake to stay healthy’. She explains that there are two types of fat free foods: those which are naturally fat free and those which have undergone processing or manufacturing to remove the fat. Natural fat-free foods provide your body with beneficial nutrients and fibre – think vegetables, whole fruits, egg whites, wholegrain oats, legume and beans, herbs and spices.