When it comes to changing our diets to boost our overall health and wellbeing, most of us will cut out fats before we’ve even considered anything else. After all, we’re told time and again that all fats drastically stand to increase our risks of issues including obesity, diabetes, and even cardiovascular disease.
While there’s certainly studies to back these claims, there’s also plenty of evidence that removing fats from our diets altogether could quickly prove detrimental to a healthy food-based balance, especially when you consider how even olive oil-heavy Mediterranean diets are some of the healthiest in the world. The question is, what exactly are the facts where functional fats are concerned, and how can we develop a healthy relationship that ensures we’re getting what we need without going overboard?
What are the two types of fat?
When we talk about fat, we typically refer to two different types, each of which provides incredibly differing functions as follows –
- Unsaturated fats: Found in foods such as avocados and nuts, unsaturated fats characteristically consist of loosely packed molecules that display as liquids at room temperature, and have been linked to lower risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality amongst other notable benefits.
- Saturated fats: Often seen as ‘bad’ fats, saturated fats are found in animal products including beef, pork, and high-fat dairy. The use of these typically solid fats in fast food has fuelled their bad reputation, but studies show that there’s no decisive findings to prove that saturated fats in reasonable quantities are damaging.
While unsaturated fats are undeniably the healthiest way to incorporate fat into your diet, saturated fats can also play their part in a balanced and healthy lifestyle by –
- Increasing fatty tissues that aid in the storage of excess energy
- Adding to visceral fat stores that both protect and insulate organs
- Helping with the regulation of bodily hormones
How can you have a healthier relationship with fatty foods?
The health benefits of functional fats may be on the table, but how exactly do you ensure a healthy relationship with these foods when it’s remained so far out of reach until now?
- Understand where bad fats actually come from
While both unsaturated and saturated fats deserve a place in any balanced diet, it is still crucial to avoid inherently unhealthy fatty foods such as deep-fried or fast food wherever possible.
- Find healthy recipes that include balanced fat sources
By taking the time to find well-thought, balanced meals like this chicken nachos recipe, you ensure that you’re able to incorporate fat sources like cheese alongside crucial healthy additions including sweetcorn, green onions, tomatoes, and olives.
- Always approach with moderation in mind
While incorporating even saturated fats in recipes like those mentioned above once or twice a week is crucial for a balanced diet, cholesterol rises are inevitable from even unsaturated fats if you eat them every day. Simply space out your fat-heavy meals to ensure that you enjoy all of those functional fat benefits with none of the downsides.