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Good Fat vs Bad Fat - The Guide

April 26, 2016

Good Fat vs Bad Fat - The Guide

I was over the moon when I got my hands on the Time Magazine issue last year where they were ending the war on fat and embracing good fats instead. Fat has been getting a bad rap in the last few decades for being a reason for strokes, heart disease and other fatal illnesses. Numerous studies came out last year that found that a moderate fat diet had little or nothing to do with heart disease. The culprit for raised blood cholesterol and triglycerides was in fact, a high carb, high sugar diet and physical inactivity.

The low fat revolution was aiming to halt heart disease in America in its tracks but actually ended up causing more problems than it had anticipated. People were sicker, fatter and more predisposed to diabetes, heart disease and strokes than when they were consuming moderate amounts of fat.

Your brain is made up almost entirely of fat and we actually need to feed it adequate amounts of healthy fat as fuel. Fat plays several roles in the body- it boosts satiety, lowers the glycemic index and helps to repair the body and aid recovery after illness, injury or a vigorous workout.

There are three main types of fat that we consume- polyunsaturated, unsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Saturated fats are found in animal products and bakery and patisserie; while, polyunsaturated fats are vegetable oils like walnut and sunflower oils.
The last kind of fat is the monounsaturated fats found in olives, avocados and nuts.

Research suggests that eating moderate amounts of monounsaturated fats daily can help balance blood sugar, regulate blood cholesterol and reduce triglycerides. Trans fat is a kind of saturated fat which has been packed with hydrogen that is responsible for clogging of the arteries and fatal heart attacks.

How does one identify trans fat in a snack food or package? Well its simple-  look for partially hydrogenated oil and if your snack has it then do away with it because it contains trans fats. You are better off eating a steak than consuming these dangerous fats.
I am not stating that you should go out and grab all the butter and margarine in the world but I am asking you to not punish yourself if you eat a little extra avocado or eat some coconut meat in Thailand. The crucial part to take note of in the fat debate is the kind of fat you are consuming - the good fat v/s the bad fat.

Here are a few tips that will help keep your ticker healthy, your cholesterol at bay and keep you in good shape.
1. Try using unsalted grass fed butter, ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil instead for cooking and olive oil for salads and marinades. The fat in these oils are stable, add flavour and boost satiety. They are safe for cooking and actually lower the glycemic load of the food you are eating- making it safer for diabetics and the insulin resistant.

2. Do away with all the vegetable oil for cooking at home. Vegetable oil has a low smoke and boiling point which makes it unsuitable for indian cooking and frying at high temperatures. Oils such as sunflower, grapeseed, groundnut and vegetable oil that are cooked at high temperatures can become carcinogenic and can mess with your blood serum cholesterol levels. 
3. Make avocados and nuts a part of your daily diet. You can add avocados and toast or avocados and eggs as healthy breakfast or mid day meal staples. The fleshy fruit is delicious and absolutely versatile- you can whip up some eggs and guac or you could smear some on toast with lime and sriracha sauce. 

4. For smoothie lovers who love to start their day with a green monster smoothie- you can add flax, chia and sesame into your smoothie for cardio protective omega 3's and appetite suppressing fiber. Eating these seeds regularly will improve your complexion and your nails and hair will be healthier too. Add upto 2tbsp of these tiny but mighty seeds and you will see a difference in just two weeks.

5. When you are confused about food combinations at a restaurant- stick to protein and vegetables. Order your salads with dressing on the salad and stick to olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Eat your meats grilled and sauteed and do away with the wedges and bread but order a side of spinach or buttered vegetables instead. 

6. Healthy fat sources that you can incorporate easily into your diet. Eggs and avocado for breakfast for heart healthy omega 3 that are great for skin, hair and nails. If you are a vegetarian you can opt for chia seeds, flax and hemp as well as walnuts that have cardio protective omega 3's and help boost satiety as well as meet your daily protein and calcium requirements. For lunch you can opt for a fatty fish like tuna, mackerel or salmon or go for avocado on toast. The fat will help keep you sated till dinner time and your blood sugar levels will also be stable through the day. You can go for turkey breast with buttered vegetables for dinner and opt for a large bowl of vegetables to fill you up. 
In conclusion, inactivity, too much sugar and carbohydrate are far more likely to cause heart problems than fat alone.
If I were you, I would do away with that burger and grab a steak with buttered vegetables. Life is too short and we are far better off giving up refined sugar and carbs than living a life free of turkey, pork and deprivation.