Why the right fats are so important for us.


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Why the right fats are so important for us.

For many years we were told that fat was bad for us and we should avoid it at all costs. Luckily in recent years as we have learnt more about the intricacies of nutrition so too have we learnt that getting the right mix of fats in our diet is really important for our health and wellbeing.  The only confusing thing is how we can achieve the right mix of fat in our daily diets to ensure we are getting all the key nutritional and health benefits the good fats offer.  So firstly, let’s take a look at the different types of fat before we share how you can achieve the right balance of fat in your diet every day. 

When it comes to fat in our diets there are two main types – saturated fats found in animal foods including dairy, meat and many fried and processed foods such as biscuits, cakes and fast foods and unsaturated fats found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and avocado. Unsaturated fats can be broken down further and include monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats as well as the long chain omega 3 fats – fats that are primarily found in fish and fats that are known to have a number of specific health benefits. Over time the average intake of omega 3 fats in our diets has declined as changes in our diet as seen us consume more processed foods and less seeds, nuts and fish in general. The result is a diet that is relatively high in saturated fats and omega 6 fats coming from vegetable oils and processed foods and relatively low in the long chain omega 3 fats. 

From a health perspective, the ideal mix of fats is one that includes an equal amount of saturated, mono and polyunsaturated fats. This 1:1:1 ratio of fats helps keep the cell at its healthiest. Traditionally though our diets have been much higher in saturated fats which can act to block the health benefits associated with a diet higher in longer chain fats such as the omega 3’s.

In amount terms as the average adult needs roughly 60-80g of fat per day, this translates into 20-30g maximum of each saturated, mono and polyunsaturated fats each day. In food terms this translates into choosing lean meat and dairy foods, using olive oil for cooking and focusing on increasing your intake of nuts, seeds and oily fish to get enough natural long chain polyunsaturated fats.

So if you have not been paying a lot of attention to your fat intake, here are the foods to focus on to get your fat balance right. 

1. Focus on oily fish

While all types of fish are good for us, it is salmon and sardines that are particularly high in omega 3 fats. Tuna is also a good choice too but canned tuna is often low fat and as such as had some of the vital omega 3 fats removed and as such canned or fresh salmon or fresh tuna is a better choice when it comes to the omega 3 content. Try mashing up a little salmon into vegetables, making mini balls or patties or evening crumbing a few strips and cooking them on the BBQ for easy and omega 3 rich meals.

Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 11.23.50 am2. Snack on nuts once each day

A daily serve of nuts has been shown to support both weight control and heart health long term. The key is to incorporate a range of nuts into your diet as different nuts have different nutritional properties. For those who have an issue with portion control or who simply love nut spreads, these can be a great way to add into your diet as a spread for toast, as a base for protein balls or as a handy snack on the run when you use a product such as Mayver’s Goodness to Go which is a portion controlled serve of 100% peanut butter than offers a massive 3g of long chain polyunsaturated fats per serve. 

3. Choose the right crackers or bread

Grain based breads and crackers especially soy linseed or chia loaves can be a good source of the plant form of omega 3 fat. If you can tolerate these foods, the grain varieties will ensure you get an extra serve of good fats each day. 

Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 11.19.00 am4. Use superfoods

Chia is a superfood that can easily be incorporate into smoothies and yoghurt and chia is another rich source of the plant source of omega 3 fat. Just a couple of teaspoons of chia each day offers more than the recommended daily amounts of plant based omega’3’s. 

5. Add in the right spreads

Often we revert to butter or margarine as our go to spread but if you have a family who can consume nuts and seeds without concern there are a wide range of Mayver’s 100% nut and seed spreads available in supermarkets which are rich sources of the plant sources of omega 3 fat. Find them in the health food sections of supermarkets and just a couple of teaspoons is another easy way to boost your intake of good fat.  

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Mayver’s.

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