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Get Your Fat On: Oakville Nutritionist

The mere mention of the word FAT and people go running for Jenny Craig!  What is it about fat that has everyone so uptight?  We have become a society so obsessed with avoiding fat that we have forgotten what it actually is and how vital it is to our survival. At 9 calories per gram, twice the amount provided by protein or carbohydrates, fat provides us with energy so our bodies can function properly. Functions like brain development, synthesizing fat soluble vitamins, protection or insulation of organs and of course energy are all dependent upon fat.

Our aversion to fat, stems from our limited knowledge about this nutrient and that more recently good and bad fats have been lumped together in our vocabulary (see list below for examples of healthy vs. unhealthy fats). As a general rule, many people have little to no idea that fat from olive oil and fat from potato chips are polar opposites; in proper amounts, olive oil is a fantastic food while chips are generally full of trans fats, processed sugars and unnecessary salts.

We have also been bombarded with advertisements warning us that fat is bad and that “low fat” products will somehow make us thin again. However, the reality of the situation is that low fat foods tend to have much more sugar than whole fat foods; fat adds flavour, so when it’s removed, flavour (sugar) often has to be added back in. Excess sugar will eventually be stored as fat, thus fueling the ongoing cycle of weight gain. It’s a never ending battle for the majority of North Americans hoping to lose some extra weight!

As one of the 3 macro nutrients, fat should be an integral part of our diet- not something to fear. In proper amounts, healthy fats like avocado keep us feeling fuller longer, reducing the urge to pick up processed foods (simple sugars) as a quick fix for hunger. In addition, healthy fat is also low on the glycemic index – meaning that it will not spike your blood sugar and leave you tired and irritable a few hours later. What many do not realize is that a by-product of the highs and lows created by simple sugars actually makes our bodies store carbohydrates as fat.

See below for a list of fats to stay away from and those fats that are good to include in your diet. For help choosing how much fat to include in your diet, set up an appointment!

Examples of unhealthy fats:

·      Margarine

·      Shortening

·      Trans fats eg hydrogenated oils

·      Lard

·      Deep fried foods

·      Potato chips

And more

Examples of healthy fat:

·      Olive oil

·      Avocado (oil)

·      Flax seed (oil)

·      Olives

·      Raw nuts and seeds

·      Grape seed oil

·      Cold water fish (salmon, cod etc)