Whenever we talk superfoods we instantly think of kale, berries and quinoa – all nutrient dense foods whose strong nutritional properties that give them the superfood label. Another superfood we frequently talk about is salmon, known for its huge omega 3 content in which a serve of fresh salmon will give an adult their entire daily intake of these powerful good fats. What we talk about less frequently is the importance of having the right types of fats in our diets every day. And chances are, unless you are eating fresh salmon every single day, you are not getting enough of the foods that can help you achieve the right balance of fats in your diet. So here are the steps to achieving the optimal balance of fats in your diet and the foods that will help you to get it.
Fat balance in the body is controlled by a number of complex metabolic pathways. It is for this reason that dietary balance never comes down to just one food or diet but rather the interplay of dietary patterns, nutrient intake and balance as well as our genetic response to different nutrients and dietary patterns. When described in relatively simple terms, there are fats that promote the health of our cells, and fats which are more damaging. As the types of fat we consume on a daily basis will be a mix of the different fats, these fats compete for position in the body, and as such having the right ratio of the different fats is a key predictor of the health of our cells, and our body overall.
In general, Australian’s intake of saturated fats is relatively high thanks to a high intake of dairy, meat and processed and fast foods. A high intake of saturated fat, especially as part of a diet in which excessive calories are consumed is linked to increased inflammation in the body, and fat storage in the body’s cells. On the other hand, good fats which include both monounsaturated fats found primarily in olive oil, peanuts, almonds and avocado and the long chain polyunsaturated fats found in grains, seeds, walnuts and oily fish help to balance out these fats and improve the health of our cells. While our intake of monounsaturated fats is pretty good, thanks to our love affair with olive oil and avocado, few of us get the amount of long chain polyunsaturated fats we need to allow them to get into the cell and do their good work.
The reason for this is that natural, long chain polyunsaturated fats are hard to find, especially if you do not eat or like fish. So for anyone wanting to optimise their health, or for anyone battling autoimmune conditions such as PCOS, insulin resistance, fatty liver, thyroid issues or joint pain, here are the key foods rich in polyunsaturated fats to include in your diet to get the 10-20g of these fats in your diet that will help to balance out your ratios of good and bad fats.
Also known as pepitas, pumpkin seeds like many seeds offer us a massive dose of these special fats. Just 30g of pepitas offers almost 7g of long chain fats or 1/3 of our daily requirement.
All nuts are good for us but walnuts in particular pack a massive punch when it comes to omega 3 content with just 10-12 walnuts offering more than 14g of long chain fats.
It is not for nothing that dietitians regularly cite salmon as one of the favourite superfoods – one of the few naturally occurring sources of the powerful long chain fatty acids EPA and DHA, a 100g serve of salmon will give you at least 4g of these fats. And while plant sources of these fats are still good choices nutritionally, as they will convert to the longer chain EPA and DHA, oily fish remains the richest source of DHA and EPA.
Soy linseed bread
While all grain bread is a good choice, it is specifically the mix of soy and linseed which gives soy lin bread its 4g of polyunsaturated fats per serve.
Another superseed that offers more than 3g of long chain fats per tablespoon
There are few commonly consumed fish in Australia that are naturally rich in omega 3 fats but sardines are one of them with 3g of polyunsaturated fats per serve.
If walnuts are not your thing, a 30g serve of roughly 20 pecans will offer more than 7g of long chain fats.
Again rich in long chain fats with more than 3g of polys per serve