Nutritional facts can be tough nuts to crack. Understanding your body, your food and the synergy between the two is a prerequisite for understanding the stuff scribbled across your shopping. We’ve made it our mission to be your nutcracker. Every Monday resident Gousto nutritionist, Vicki, will be demystifying diet to help you on your quest for truly nourishing meals.
Most often, we think of it as something we don’t want to be.
Our very personal relationship with the word has been exploited by food companies, demonising fat and offering us “Fat-Free” or “Low Fat” alternatives. To be allowed this type of labelling a product must contain at least 30% less fat than a similar product, but it doesn’t have to be healthier. It could contain a whole load of other rubbish to compensate for loss of flavour and texture. Not such a miracle after all.
We consider the excess fat on our bodies and the fat content of our food to be one and the same, which simply isn’t the case.
“Good fat” as a concept is gaining traction but too many of us still wince at the thought of it on those green smoothie, carrot sticks and quinoa days.
Avocados contain lots of monounsaturated fats but most people don’t realise that their saturated fat content is also pretty high. That isn’t a bad thing – the bad reputation of sat fats is up for academic debate at the moment, as well as that of fats at large.
Every five years the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are updated. Not due to be released until later this year, the next update is already hitting headlines: Fat is Back! The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee found no health benefit to limiting the amount of total fat in the diet (previous guidelines stated that total fat should make up no more than 20% – 35% of total daily calories). Hurrah!
Oily fish like salmon and mackerel contain a ton of omega-3 fatty acids: you’ve probably heard that line a lot, but do you know what these acids actually do? Well, omega-3s are incredible anti-inflammatories. This doesn’t just mean they’re good for swollen tonsils: anti-inflammatories help to prevent joint pain, heart disease and autoimmune diseases like asthma, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. They’re clever, and they make you clever too. Your brain is two-thirds fat and needs replenishment to stay sharp. There are some people who think that we outsmarted our primate cousins almost solely due to our seafood – and therefore omega-3 – intake. Fishy food for thought.
Omega-3 fatty acids actually help you lose stored body fat by improving insulin sensitivity. They encourage your body to use up stored fat for energy. For many, this is the clincher and the flattering fat fact that really sticks in the fatty mind!
You know the deal with cakes, crisps and cookies, and I don’t need to tell you that an oozing cheeseburger is going to do nothing for improving your insulin sensitivity. But almond nut butter smothered over fresh fruit? Now you’re talking
Ultimately, fats taste fantastic. There’s even research to suggest that our taste buds recognise fat as well as sweet, sour and bitter tastes. Enjoy it, along with all its benefits that the food labelling people hoped you’d never find out.
Interested in more?
- How do omega-3 fatty acids work? | Precision Nutrition
- Fat is back: New guidelines abandon the upper limit on dietary fat | Forbes
- The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between | Harvard Health Publications