'What are healthy fats' is one of the most common questions I get asked when working with new clients. There has been so much confusion around what types of fat are healthy, what types aren't and which should we be including in our diet.
It gets confusing as fats are a crucial aspect of a healthy diet, but not all fats have a beneficial effect on our bodies. Healthy fats have the ability to improve cognitive function, skin healthy, blood sugar levels and lowering cholesterol whereas unhealthy fats cause inflammation, excess weight gain, fatigue and can contribute to the development of disease.
Fats are broken down into two main categories: saturated and non-saturated fatty acids. Saturated fats are things such as coconut oil, butter, fat from meat and can be included in a healthy diet within moderation. Unsaturated fats are things such as nuts and seeds, fatty fish, olive oil and have been shown to reduce inflammation, increase weight loss and help with skin health. With our fat intake, we generally want to be including more unsaturated fats into our diet and saturated fats more sparingly.
So, what healthy fats should we be consuming?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
I've written many times about how much I love extra virgin olive oil and how I use it as part of my skin care regime too! Extra virgin olive oil contains an array of health benefits and has been to reduce blood pressure, reduce inflammation, improve skin health and helps to regular blood sugar levels as part of a balanced meal.
We want to be mindful of which type of olive oil we are using though and this is important. Only opt for Extra Virgin olive oil where possible as this means that no chemicals have been used when refining the oil in comparison to refined olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is great drizzled on salads and meals but isn't recommended for high temperature cooking as it has a low smoke point.
Similarly with extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil is also a staple in my skin care regime. Coconut oil is also great for high temperature cooking, contains many health benefits including having an anti-inflammatory effect on the body due to the antioxidant levels, contains medium-chain fatty acids which have been shown to improve cognitive function and promotes heart health.
Ghee / Butter
If you choose to consume butter, try to choose grass-fed or organic where possible. Butter contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to improve skin health and brain function. Butter is also rich in trace minerals such as selenium and contains a number of different vitamins too!
Ghee is the Indian version of butter and is great for high temperate cooking due to its' high smoke point. Ghee is full of vitamins including Vitamin E and Vitamin A, is lactose and casein free, and is a great alternative to butter, rich in health benefits!
Avocados hold many health benefits. They are anti-inflammatory, contain high levels of fibre, satisfying and help to reduce cravings, and loaded with Vitamin E so are basically skin food!
Avocados have also been shown to fight free radical damage, improve your immune system and great for heart and brain health! Avocado is a great addition to your meals to help balance blood sugar levels, too!