Often, many patients ask me about the role of fats in healthy eating, because they have heard or read that they should not be consumed to avoid its accumulation in the body. Of course, this is not an easy topic, and with these decisive actions we are far from reality. As long as most of the fats consumed are healthy and obviously concerned with quantity, they can be included in a healthy eating plan, even for losing body fat.
What are healthy fats?
Healthy fats are known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Recent scientific research shows that monounsaturated fats can reduce heart disease by 30%. This result can be compared to someone taking cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins). And it is Omega-3 that helps us:
- maintaining normal brain function
- reducing inflammation
- may also reduce symptoms of depression, dementia, cancer and arthritis.
Where can I find them?
Since the body cannot produce omega-3, it is important that we consume foods that contain it, such as blue fish (salmon, trout, tuna, anchovies), flax, chia seeds, walnuts, and dark green leafy vegetables … Fats are very important for a healthy diet:
- They provide our body with a layer of protection that insulates our organs
- Maintains normal body temperature
- They help us digest fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K
- They keep cells, hormones, tissues, hair, skin and nails healthy
- Provides a structural component of many cell membranes, which are essential for cell development and which rapidly carry various messages (hormones) through our body.
Beware of Omega-6
Vegetable oils (such as soybean oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, sesame oil, etc.) contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which, while fulfilling their function, are currently being developed. Consumption in excess, especially when compared to omega-3s. According to a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) report, Americans consume nearly 20% of their calories from soybean oil, due to their high consumption of ultra-processed foods.
But what’s the problem? This omega 6 is pro-inflammatory, and inflammation in the body can be a factor in increasing the risk of heart disease. In fact, high omega-6 intake has been linked to an increase in inflammatory diseases. On the other hand, research shows that lower omega-6s and higher omega-3s may reduce the risk of chronic disease.
And how can we reduce our omega-6 intake?
Eating raw or minimally processed foods (which was traditional cuisine). By avoiding or reducing the amount of ultra-processed foods, you will avoid excess omega-6 intake as they are very common in this type of food.
Is it advisable to include fat in a healthy diet for weight loss?
Yes, depending on the amount you can include in your diet. In fact, they provide greater satiety, better taste and better texture to food, so the diet will be more varied and appetizing, and therefore, not only your taste will thank you, but also your mind.
But how much can I eat?
This will always depend on your lifestyle, your physical and health goals, your digestion, physical activity and exercise levels, and genetics. However, you can even include portions and quantities in all your meals and even in your snacks. Depending, of course, on your protein to carbohydrate ratio.
What’s true is that you can store fat by consuming excess healthy fats, you can also do this with protein or carbohydrates (consuming excess).
How can we enable them?
- Breakfast: 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Snack: a handful of dried fruits
- Food: Add some sunflower seeds to the salad
- Dinner: 1/2 unit of avocado baked with egg.