Still believe fat makes you fat? Think again! Today we have nutrition coach and cookbook author Megan Hallett (@meganhallett) explaining the many health benefits of fat!
Fat is, in my opinion, the very best macronutrient.
And it has, for some time, been a rather controversial macronutrient. Some consider it the more the merrier when it comes to optimal health, whilst others fear it, avoiding even the lightest drizzle of olive oil.
Wherever you stand (hopefully somewhere in the middle!) fat is an essential component of our diets.
1. Cell Membranes
Our cells are held together by a membrane and in there, you’ll find fat, ensuring that our cells are all healthy and functioning well. Its quite simply, the foundations of being human.
Healthy cell membranes are responsible for the way our cells function on a day to day basis, from allowing glucose into our cells to make energy, to keeping any foreign pathogens out.
This is where “healthy” fats and “unhealthy” fats come into play. Too many sources of omega-6 fatty acids in comparison to omega-3, on top of overly processed polyunsaturated vegetable oils, tend to be counterproductive in building a healthy cell membrane.
So, opting for the right types of fat in our diet is just as essential as ensuring we’re including them. Omega-3 fatty acids such as wild-caught oily fish, chia seeds and eggs will help to maintain a healthy cell membrane.
We need fat to make hormones, and we need healthy hormones for absolutely everything. From healthy cycles, fertility, mental health, stress response, energy levels, sleep, skin health… all the things that make us who we are, are down to these wonderful chemical messengers known as hormones.
Supporting the endocrine system through diet ensures that our hormones are functioning at their best. For example, we need cholesterol (found in the diet) to make progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone. We also need it for cortisol (for immunity and stress response), as well as aldosterone for mineral and water balance.
3. Vitamin Absorption
Certain vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning we need a little fat to be able to absorb them sufficiently. These include vitamins A, D, E and K.
Whilst this one may seem a little obvious, fat is essential in ensuring all the nourishing foods we’re consuming are utilised in the best possible way.
Top tip: If you take a multi-vitamin or individual supplement, you’ll absorb it best if alongside a meal containing healthy fat (such as avocado, eggs, nut butter, salmon, olives) or at least a handful of nuts.
4. Blood Sugar
I really do believe we’re out of that “fat makes you fat” phase, but let’s shout about it a little louder for those in the back.
Whilst extreme overconsumption of any macronutrient will, of course, lead to weight gain, fat is a great tool to utilise if you are managing weight.
Unlike carbohydrates, fat doesn’t break down to glucose in the body and so, doesn’t spark an insulin response. In this case, fat can aid in balancing blood sugar and sustain energy levels throughout the day.
5. Brain Power
Lastly, you’ve most likely been told to eat your fish the day before an exam, or seen posts on Instagram comparing a walnut to a brain! The brain is made up of around 60% fat, so dietary fat is essential for cognition because it nourishes the fatty coating (myelin) that surrounds the neurones in our brains. The more insulated and nourished this myelin is, the faster and more effectively our brains work.
It’s those essential omega-3 fatty acids that the brain just loves, including DHA and EPA. There has also been research done on the effects of MCT oil on the brain and how it can be used as an effective supplement for focus. The liver turns MCT oil into ketones which can pass the blood-brain barrier and be used for fuel.
Did you know all 4 flavours of Eli’s Granola contain sources of healthy fat? From peanut butter to coconut, almonds, pecans and walnuts, rest assured you’re starting your day with a bit of healthy fat to fuel your brain, balance your blood sugar and help keep you feeling full until lunch! SHOP THE RANGE HERE: