Fats have always had a bad rap. Low fat yogurts, reduced-fat cheeses, oil-free stir-fry and now even "Lighter Avocado" had their time to shine, but research continues to pour in that favours consumption of healthy fats on a daily basis.
It can be hard to determine which fats are "good" vs. "bad", which you can cook with vs. which can become toxic, etc. But as fats are one of three macronutrients needed by our bodies to build, maintain and function optimally, it's important to know where and how to get these important building blocks.
Today, we giving you the skinny on essential fatty acids (EFAs)
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs):
Omega-3s are the EFAs that are found in items like fish or flax seeds. Broken down further, you're searching for EPA (important for maintenance) and DHA (important for growth).
Omega-6s are generally found in nuts and seeds, but also in vegetable oils, snack foods and fast foods. This is why Omega-6s tend to get a bad wrap, however it's important to remember that this group of EFAs is essential for a reason.
Why are these important?
- Skin Health: Your skin is made up of various cells, including a lipid (fat) layer, which requires EFAs to ensure is keeps its structure.
- Brain Health: First, your brain is made up of a lot of fat. Second, your whole body regularly send signals to different places to make everything work. More on this in the next point!
- Nervous System Health: These signals are sent via neurotransmitters which are enclosed in a lipid layer. Here, fats are important to ensure signals fire properly and your body functions, heals and regulates itself at optimal levels.
- Energy: Your body's primary source of energy is glucose, however when our blood sugar levels drop, we start drawing on stores of fat. This is also why many people follow a ketogenic diet, where they remove glucose from their diet. Their bodies then use fat for energy, generally resulting in weightloss.
Where to find heart-healthy fats:
Omega-3 fatty acids to incorporate in your diet:
- Fish like mackerel, salmon
- Seeds like flaxseed or chia
- Oils including flaxseed oil, chia
Omega-6 fatty acids to incorporate in your diet:
- Avocado and avocado oil
- Eggs (like in this mushroom frittata)
- Lean poultry meat
- Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds and pine nuts
If you're unsure about how to incorporate healthy fats into your diet, talk to one of our personal trainers who can help guide you!
Next time, we'll explore cholesterol and it's importance in maintaining a healthy heart and balancing blood pressure!