Fat

Good/Bad/ Brown/ White

 Food can be very confusing in this day and age. There is just so much information out there it can be really hard to find your way through the maze. Added to the fact that nutritional science is evolving at a rapid rate you could end up either not eating or over eating too much of the wrong foods.

Fat is a really good example of where science has changed. So much of the information that what we learnt as young women is now no longer true.

First things first though we need a certain amount of fat in our diets. Fat contains a plethora of good things including fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. We need these vitamins to do things like stop us bleeding, help with keeping our bones strong and many other things. So you shouldn’t cut out all of the fat in your diet.

A certain amount of fat is needed as you get older to really care for your skin, hair and nails.

The issue is the kind and amount you have. It’s what is in the mix that counts.

Unsaturated fats such as nuts, oily fish and avocados are full of the things that keep you healthy and looking good. They can also help to lower your cholesterol.

Saturated and Trans fats like processed meat products, biscuits, cakes and pastries and full fat dairy products can raise your level of cholesterol.

The key here is to make sure you eat mostly plant based, or fish based, fats and only small amounts of saturated or trans fats.

In terms of the amount you should have you need to remember that fat is very dense in energy which means a little bit goes a long way. Even though it is only a small amount for a serve because it is so dense it will generally make you feel more satisfied when you have finished, and will also keep you feeling that way longer.

So having a small amount of full fat hard cheese on some crackers may well fill you up and keep you feeling full a lot longer than the same crackers with a low fat ricotta. It might look like a lot more to eat but it might not have the same effect.

So what exactly are brown and white fat?

Well this is the kind of fat you store in your body. Brown fat is like your essential fat. You are born with it and it is there to keep you protected and to be used when you need extra energy such as when you are cold.

White fat is the extra food you have eaten you haven’t used that is then converted for storage in case you hit a famine.

There is emerging science around the role of brown fat and the fact that it is so efficient at mobilising the burning of energy. Scientists are investigating whether this function can be turned on and off by certain things. Keep your fingers crossed here.

As you get older where you store your fat generally changes and unfortunately it isn’t for the better. We know that if you carry fat around your abdomen and upper arms you have a higher risk of having a heart attack and developing insulin resistance and diabetes. As we age, particularly as women, we tend to put fat onto these places; whereas in our youth we would have put it on our hips and thighs.

Fat for active women over 50  by Jennifer Gale Fit N Fifty Plus Healthy Active women over 50

What to do?

The worst thing to do is to stop eating fat, you really do need it. Here are my tips for changing the way you eat fat.

  1. Look at what you eat in a day or even over a week and see how much is coming from saturated and how much from unsaturated. Then change the proportion if you are having too much saturated fat. Saturated fat in our diets is most often found in processed foods. So the less processed the food the better it generally is for you.
  2.  Add some oily fish to your diet. Tinned fish is just as good if you don’t have access to fresh. Tinned sardines and salmon are great alternatives for lunches and breakfasts. You can mix them with rice and vegetables, put them on toast or mix them through salads either warm or cold.
  3.  Add a handful of nuts to your day. Alternatively get some nut butter from a shop that makes their own. Almond and cashew butter taste amazing and again can be added to breakfast or lunch really easily.
  4.  Why not aim for a processed food free Friday if that is one of your issues. Just like meatless Mondays you commit to only eating fresh non processed things for one day and who knows it might end up being a week, and you never know you might end up eliminating it all together.
  5.  Look at what is actually in your low fat foods. You are probably eating them because you think they are better for you with less calories. Sometimes they might have less calories but they usually have lots of sugar and other chemicals to make them taste good. You would be better off having a smaller amount without all of the additives.

Food is a wonderful thing to be enjoyed and cherished. It can make you feel good and it can make you glow. Find what makes you happy and then enjoy it.

Want to know what you should be eating?????

Listen in to Accredited Practising Dietitian Sally Marchini as she goes through what really makes up a healthy diet for you.

You can also listen to Accredited Practising Dietitian Carla Johnson talk specifically about fat in one of my latest episodes.

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