Understanding Nutrition: Fats

November 6, 2020

Understanding Nutrition: Fats

Let’s talk about fats. They used to be perceived as the big bad wolf of the nutrition world but lately have been gaining praise, as they increase meal satiety while also providing us with necessary vitamins and minerals. This negative connotation associated with fats stems from the idea that if we eat them in abundance it may contribute to weight gain. However, when we cut out fats from our diet we also lose the many benefits that come along with them. For example: without fats we would not be able to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, E, D, and K. They are found in foods that contain fats and the vitamins are more efficiently absorbed when you eat them with fats. We believe fats should be incorporated into healthy eating habits, not just for health but for the depth of flavor they add to food. With all the misinformation that circulates about what is healthy and what is not, we’re here to give you the low-down on this nutrient.

First up: what are dietary fats? 

Fats fit into a group called macronutrients, along with carbohydrates and protein. Macronutrients are the nutrients our bodies need in larger amounts to provide us with adequate energy, whereas micronutrients are vitamins and minerals which are needed in much smaller amounts (although they are equally as important.) Micronutrients are usually consumed with the macronutrients. For example, an avocado offers an adequate amount of fat while also providing us with micronutrients such as Vitamin K, C, E, and Folate. Carbohydrates and protein both contain 4 calories per gram, protein contains 9 cal/gram, meaning they provide the most energy per gram. Fats can then be broken down into two categories, saturated and unsaturated fats. 

Breaking down the two: saturated and unsaturated fats 

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found in foods like butter, meat, cheese, and packaged snacks. According to the American Heart Association saturated fats can raise LDL cholesterol, potentially leading to increased risk of heart disease. We like to zoom out and look at the overall nutrients in a meal. While these saturated fats can become an issue when consumed in excess, it is a simple switch to grab a fruit or veg instead of those chips as one of your daily snacks. You can also monitor your saturated fat intake by taking a peek at the nutrition facts on the packaging. There you will find the breakdown of all nutrients included in the food as well as total, saturated, and unsaturated fats that item contains. 

Unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature and are found in foods such as nuts, olive oil, avocado, and fatty fish. They can be further broken down into two categories: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, both beneficial to your health. These are recommended to be consumed more in a balanced diet than unsaturated fats. This is because, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, monounsaturated fats can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Monounsaturated fats are found in foods like olive oil, seeds/nuts, and avocados. Here at Eat Purely we use olive oil as an ingredient in our dressings. We choose this oil for dressings because when olive oil is cooked at too high of temperatures it breaks down the monounsaturated fatty acids, degrading its health benefits. Equally as important are polyunsaturated fats. These include the nutrients known as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Nutrition from polyunsaturated fats are necessary for a healthy diet as your body cannot produce these nutrients by itself, they must be obtained from food. The USDA recommends that we use oils as part of a balanced diet as they contain the essential fatty acids and vitamin E.

Finding balance and incorporating fats 

Balance is something we all strive for - however at times it may feel daunting. A healthy diet can help you feel your best. Nutrition should be transparent, not confusing. That’s why we have our ingredients and nutrition facts clearly stated on all our meals. At Eat Purely we strive to use high quality fats in order to give you the energy you need to get through the day and reach your goals. We wish you happy and healthy eating! 

Incorporating fats in your diet may be a challenge at times, so we’ve created a list of Eat Purely meals that are sure to satiated and fueled throughout your day.