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The Good Oil

Listen to your avocado says Georgie Gordon because it’s talking big fat sense. Yes, there are good fats, and not only that, the good ones are essential to your wellbeing.

March 27, 2019
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Georgie Gordon

Georgie Gordon

March 27, 2019

There’s a funny cartoon making its way around the internet that depicts one avocado running after another (upset) avocado saying ‘I said you were the good kind of fat!’. Funny because it demonstrates that we still find it hard to get our heads around the fact that there are any ‘good’ types of fat, and funny because avocados can’t talk.

It’s hard to keep up with what is ‘good’ food these day. Sugar, fat and carbohydrates; they’ve all had a rough trot and been deemed unhealthy or something we should just consume in moderation. However, fat has probably been the most demonised, for a long time we were led to believe that eating fat not only made us put on weight but that it was the cause of serious health concerns such as high cholesterol, blood pressure and even heart disease. Now there is evidence that not only are some types of fat good for us but they are essential to our health and wellbeing and that they can even help us lose weight. Quite the turnaround.

Put simply, the good fats are unsaturated and include omega-3s (eg. fatty fish, flaxseed, walnuts) and monounsaturated fats (eg. olive oil, avocados, pumpkin seeds, almonds) and the bad are trans fats, it’s the artificial kind found in a lot of processed food that we need to avoid (eg. packaged crackers, cookies and margarine). The contentious fats are saturated (butter, animal fat, palm oil), there is a lot of scientific research to show that eating saturated fat is not nearly bad as all the food pyramids and guidelines we grew up with have led us to believe, however they are high in kilojoules so moderation is required.

Fat is an essential part of our diet, our body needs it for energy, to support cell growth, to carry vitamins into our bloodstream, to help us produce important hormones, protect our organs and keep us warm.

As the debate continues on whether saturated fat, rich dairy products and red meat etc. are a source of good fat for us, the following is a variety of high fat foods that there’s no denying the health benefits for:

Eggs

Eggs have had a bad rap in the past as the yolk has quite a high fat content and they were not recommended for people with high cholesterol, however the tide has turned there, even the Australian Heart Foundation says ‘the cholesterol in eggs has almost no effect on our blood cholesterol levels’. Of the total fat content only a small amount is saturated and they full of omega-3s, incredibly nutritious they contain quality protein and 11 different vitamins and minerals.

Walnuts

One of the best sources of plant based omega-3 fatty acids walnuts are up there with almonds as one the healthiest nuts around. Research shows that eating a small amount every day can actually lower cholesterol levels, they also great for heart health with anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the risk of blood clots and they’re high in powerful antioxidants.

Salmon

Salmon and other oily fish like sardines and tuna are the best way get a dose of essential omega-3s. Salmon is also a great source of protein, high in B vitamins, potassium and selenium which helps protect bone health.

Dark chocolate

Chocolate with a high cocoa content is surprisingly nutritious, it contains healthy fats and a range of vitamins and minerals. It’s strong antioxidant properties fight against cancer causing free radicals and it even contains fibre. A high kilojoule and caffeine content make it strictly to be enjoyed in moderation though.

Chia seeds

The word superfood gets bandied about a lot these days but these tiny seeds are worthy of the title. They come from the Salvia Hispanica plant (a relation to mint) and are incredibly high in omega-3s and fibre and are an excellent source of protein. Great for heart and brain function and raft of other health benefits.

Olive Oil

This wonder oil is rich in essential omega-3s and also healthy monounsaturated fats that reduce inflammation in the body. A major player in the Mediterranean diet which was developed after studies showed that Mediterranean populations, despite their high dietary fat intake mainly in the form of olive oil, have low rates of certain types of cancers, cardiovascular disease and an increased life expectancy.

Sunflower seeds

It’s amazing how much goodness is packed into this little seed, the healthy fats aid in hormone balance and cardiovascular health and some of their many other nutrients include E and B vitamins, folate, and a high amount of protein.

Avocados

And lastly, back to our friends in the cartoon, the majority of fat in an avocado is monounsaturated – great for heart health and for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. They are also a rich source of Vitamin E, high in potassium and loaded with fibre.

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