Shaklak Aklak’s fourth episode is all about the elephant in every nutrition room, fats! Traditionally, fats were thought to be the most harmful nutrient out there and the main cause of bad health from our diets. The truth is, fats are essential and play a vital role in all our diets when consumed adequately in moderation.

Like any nutrient or food group out there, there are good and bad fats. Let’s take a closer look at how fats can have important functions in our bodies.

Energy – Gram per gram, fats provide more than double the amount of energy to our body’s need when compared to carbohydrates or proteins. This makes good quality fats an excellent energy booster.

Fat Soluble Vitamins – Fats are needed in our bodies to carry and absorb vitamins A,D,E, and K. Deficiencies in any of these vitamins will have huge consequences on our health – we need vitamin A for proper eyesight and good vitamin D status has been associated with  healthier pregnancies, stronger bones, and a reduced risk of many cancers. The relationship between vitamin E and fats gives fat containing foods skin beautifying, hair improving, and nail strengthening properties.

Prostaglandin Production – Prostaglandins are short-range hormones synthesized from dietary fats used to regulate the body’s immune response, blood pressure, and are even involved in inducing labor.

Brain Food – If you have read any health articles in the past decade, chances are you’ve heard of omega 3. Omega 3 is a unique fatty acid found in healthy fats that boosts brain and heart function. Stronger memory and better mood are reported with people who consume more healthy fats than those who cut out fats from their diet altogether.

So does that mean there is no need to worry about how much or what type of fats you are eating? Not quite. Cholesterol is an important factor to look at when making food choices. There are two types of cholesterol, HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol. HDL cholesterol promotes the breakdown of fat in your liver and is great for food heart health. LDL, on the other hand, promotes the storage of fats in your arteries causing clogging, less oxygen transfer to your heart and organs, and ultimately heart function problems. So how do we increase our HDL and decrease LDL ratio? The most important determinant of your HDL: LDL ratio is choosing healthy over unhealthy fats.

Trans Fats – The evidence is clear that trans fats (AKA hydrogenated fats) are the worst types of fats for us to consume. They are mainly found in margarine and processed foods. We’re looking at you doughnuts, pizza, and French fries.

Saturated Fats – Saturated fats are next on the list of fats to avoid. They’re found in animal protein and dairy products mostly, and of course butter! You should limit your calories from saturated fat to 5%, or under 20g, of your daily caloric intake.

Olive oil – This fantastic oil can be used on salad dressings, when cooking and when baking vegetables. Olive oil is great for reducing blood pressure, cancer prevention, managing diabetes, and lessening the severity of asthma and arthritis.

Nuts – Add nuts to your smoothies, salads, or have them alone as a snack for a mix of healthy fats, protein, and antioxidants. Make sure to always go for unsalted nuts.

Avocado – Enjoy an avocado in a salad, on a sandwich, or blended into a smoothie. Not only is it packed with healthy fats, but it also contains antioxidants which strengthen the immune system and prevent heart disease.

Flaxseeds – For something so small, these seeds are packed with heart healthy properties. They are great in yogurt, granola, smoothies or over salads.

Now that you know the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats, it’s important to apply this valuable information when making food choices yourself.

Stay tuned for more Shaklak Aklak episodes, where important nutritional information such as servings sizes, differences between fats, and nutritional values are discussed. Find out more information via the Shaklak Aklak website, Facebook page, Instagram page, and Youtube channel.