‘FAT’. A dreaded word for most people. Probably, the most dismal thing that could happen to the human body is to accumulate pockets of fat in all the wrong areas. It is a very difficult phase of life like when you land your dream job and go to work being all happy and excited and in just a few months, you notice that your body is changing. You’re bloating and you don’t look young anymore. Women and men alike spend the first few months of their married life in joy and bliss and then slowly reality begins to sink in when weight scales seem to shoot up every few days. It seems to be a very tiring thing to be constantly trying to maintain your health and fitness. But after a certain age exercise becomes a necessity and not a choice. Before exercise, the foremost step to a healthy body that not only feels good but also looks good from the outside is to eat the right food.
This is such a complicated decision and a very confusing one at that. With so many different sources trying to tell you right from wrong and all of them sounding so very different from each other, it becomes really hard to decide for yourself.
Healthy Fat must sound strange to you because Fat cannot be healthy. Fat is just Fat; ugly, unhealthy Fat! But the fact remains that Fat is after all an important and essential part of the human diet. Without Fat, we are just muscle and tissue. Without Fat we won’t have any energy to perform daily tasks or partake in sports. Without Fat, none of the organs can function. Some people hold the misconception that in order to lose weight, one must steer clear of anything and everything with Fat in it. But this is a very wrong notion because as we deny our body some essential fats, we take one step closer to ill health and disease.
While charting out your diet plan or even if you are not on diet, always be careful with Fat consumption. Choose only those Fatty Foods that provide nutritional benefits and avoid those that merely add unnecessary pounds to your weight.
1. Unsaturated Oils:
Conventional cold-pressed unsaturated vegetable Oils such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Peanut Oil and Sesame Oil count as healthy to cook in and much more favourable in terms of nourishment due to the large amount of mono saturated fats in them and the fact that they have been in use for hundreds of years. No chemicals or heat is used to extract these Oils from their source. Another category of unsaturated vegetable oils are newly developed oils such as Soybean Oil, Sunflower Oil, Corn Oil, Canola Oil, Cottonseed Oil and Safflower Oil. These Oils cannot be considered healthy since they are created industrially by using high heat and toxic solvents in order to extract the oil from seeds. Furthermore, genetically modified crops are used in this process. The mechanized processes used to extract these oils cause damage to them.
Whole boiled eggs are packed with nutrients and minerals. Even though the yolks contain high Cholesterol and Fat, studies show that Cholesterol from Eggs don’t add up to blood Cholesterol levels in a majority of people. The high protein in Eggs makes them one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Do not throw away the yolk for fear of gaining weight because the yolk is the heart of nutrition in an egg. Despite the high fat profile, one whole egg can actually make you eat much lesser calories and cause lesser weight gain. The most fascinating thing about eggs is that they consist a little bit of every single nutrient we need. The powerful antioxidants present in eggs help protect eyes from vision loss as well as other diseases. Eggs also consist of a substance known as ‘Choline’ which is an important nutrient vital for the brain. Choline is not available through other kinds of foods and eggs help fulfil this lack. One whole egg contains 212 mg of Cholesterol which makes up for 71% of daily intake recommended for the body. There is a general perception that eggs are unhealthy because they contain high fat but eating eggs lets you cut down on other fat which may be unhealthy. So you are giving your body the required fat and denying it that which is not beneficial. Protein is a very important nutrient that assists in weight loss.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Omega-3 is a glorious leader among all good fats. They have innumerable benefits and help fight against inflammation. They control clotting of blood and regulate blood pressure. Omega-3 is available through fish. Tuna, Salmon, Mackerel and Sardines are packed with Omega-3. The vegetarian equivalents to Fish are Soy, Walnuts and some Vegetable Oils. There is no restriction or a definitive measure of the amount of Omega-3 one needs but The American Heart Association has said that a 7-ounce serving of fish for a week should do. Salmon is a great fish with lots of Omega-3 and Protein. Add it to your diet at least once or twice in a week.
Nuts are especially good for health. Hazelnuts, Walnut, Pecans all provide heart-friendly fats. But be careful around nuts and make sure you don’t overeat them. They’re budget friendly and easy to store or pack which make them great and healthy snacks. Walnuts, Almonds, Hazelnuts are all tiny powerhouses of nutrients. Nuts are very helpful for people suffering from heart diseases due to their heart friendly nutrients. Nuts bring down LDL (Bad Cholesterol) significantly and correct inner lining of your arteries. They prevent unwanted clotting of blood which is a major cause for heart attacks.
Yogurt with full fat is extremely healthy. Along with important nutrients just like other dairy products, Yogurt contains good probiotic bacteria that ca have profound effect on health. These healthy bacteria improve digestion drastically. But many of the store-bought Yogurts are low in fat and high in added sugar. Make sure you read the labels on all of them and only choose real, full-fat Yogurt. Yogurt has been proven to fight Heart Disease as well as Obesity. Yogurt helps vegetarians gain all the crucial supplements that they don’t get otherwise. Yogurt improves colon health. An 8-ounce serving of full-fat Yogurt contains about 130 calories, 13 gms of protein, 0.4 gms of fat, 17.4 gms of carbohydrates/sugar and 450 milligrams of Calcium. Both non-fat as well as full-fat varieties are rich in both Calcium and Protein. It serves as a tasty and convenient breakfast, smoothie, milkshake or snack accompaniment.
Flaxseeds and Nuts are said to be the best healthy fats available. Nutritionists recommend Flaxseeds more than any other nut because they boost good Cholesterol. Add them to almost any kind of food to up the quality of your meal. Use them with salads or bake them. Lignans contain Estrogen as well as Antioxidants. The amount of Lignans in Flaxseeds are about 75 to 800 times more than any other plant nutritions. Flaxseeds have ALA which a type of Omega-3 fat. Flaxseeds come with about 42% of fat in them. The fat content can be divided into 72% of Polyunsaturated Fat like Omega-6, Omega-3 and Alpha-Linoleinic Acid (ALA). Flaxseeds are the second best sources of ALA; Chia Seeds being the first. ALA is also not produced by the body and is not found in most foods that we eat. A certain ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 in the bloodstream helps prevent various chronic diseases. Flaxseeds help maintain this ratio thus keeping chronic diseases at bay. However, they are not as good as a source in Omega-3 as Fish.
7. Butter and Ghee:
Indians love to drown their food as well as themselves in Butter or Ghee. Apart from the beautiful addictive taste, you might be quite surprised to know that they are quite healthy. They gel wonderfully with almost any kind of food. They contain highly saturated fats and are full of CLA. CLA is Conjugated Linoleic Acid that has many strong anti-cancer properties. Grass-fed pasture raised animals give the most Organic Butter and that is what you must choose. Ghee (Clarified Butter) can be prepared at home. Melt butter on a pan on medium flame. Watch how all the white parts go to the very bottom. Then strain it using a cheese cloth so that you have only the pure fat left. Dairy sensitive people may choose Ghee over other products since Ghee has all its milk constituents taken out.
8. Dark Chocolate:
Chocolates with at least 70% cocoa have amazing health benefits. Cocoa Butter used to make chocolate has Oleic acid. Oleic Acid is a mono saturated fat which is also present in Avocados and in Olive Oil. Flavonoids in Dark Chocolate has some amazing group of antioxidants. Dark Chocolate decreases bad Cholesterol, increases blood flow to the Heart and Arteries, lowers Blood Pressure, Reduces occurrence of blood clots and stimulates mood. However, remember to have only one square piece of Dark Chocolate in a serving. One serving of Dark Chocolate has 155 calories out of which 38% are Fat.
Fats are a category of food known as Macronutrients. Good fat is naturally found in food. Natural fats can be classified into three types: Saturated, Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated. The prevalent fat content are used to identify these foods. For example, Olive Oil is ‘Mono-saturated’, Butter is ‘Saturated’.
Bad Fats on the other hand are so named because they are damaged fats. Bad Fats have Oils that have used and reused multiple times for frying. Bad Fats are Hydrogenated Fats and are also known as ‘Trans Fats’.
We are all constantly told to remove all fat from our diet if we wish to be healthy and slim. Our body makes use of fat in numerous ways like building of cell membranes. Fats assist in muscle movement, blood clotting and inflammation. Usually all kinds of Fat have a similar chemical composition. But each fat has certain variations in them in terms of structure. These small differences make up for some huge alterations in functions.
The worst Fat that plagues out times is Trans Fat found in Fast Food, Confectionary and typically all Junk Food. We see how thousands of people today suffer from ailments and fail to live long, healthy lives due to Fast Food addiction. Beautiful, young people suffer from obesity and various untold diseases.
The fate of mankind is in danger because of such improper food. Knowingly or unknowingly, we are consuming way too much of trans fats in the form due to the very lifestyle we live in today. Avoid all Fast Food like the plague. They will never do even the slightest bit of good to you and it is better to steer clear of them. Various Government and Health bodies are trying their level best to raise public awareness regarding the repercussions of trans fats to human life. It has also made a good impact to some extent. But unless we make a conscious effort to stop eating this ‘so-called’ food, their efforts will be in vain. Day by day, our fast lifestyle is only reducing human lifespan by years and the root cause is our fast food. If we want to leave behind a healthy and fruitful future for the next generation, its time we thought seriously about the kind of food prepared and sold today.
For your safety and for the safety of your loved ones, keep away from unhealthy food and make a choice to live a quality life.