Besides carbohydrates and proteins, fats represent a very important part of our nutrition. They are tricky, mainly because of the various misleading information that circles around them, but we can not deny the fact that our body does need them. The problem is which one of them because there are a lot of kinds of fatty acids having different physiological impacts on our organisms. They come in different forms and they can also be found in various food items in different quantities. At first glance, this sounds a little bit too much and complicated, but we’ll try to lighten it up a bit.
Fatty acids group themselves in two categories: saturated and unsaturated fats.
None of them can be avoided, because also plants and food originating from animals can contain both fatty acids. It is also not recommended avoiding any of them, contrary to some beliefs, we can not affirm, that one of them is 100% bad and the other 100% good. A lot of studies proved that saturated fats cause cholesterol and in this way contribute to heart disease. But this is not entirely true because the most important factor in categorizing them in good or bad doesn’t really lose its wind in their name, but mainly in their origin. And in origin, I do not mean, if they come from a plant or an animal, but what have been the processes which it went through before it ended up on our table?
Saturated fats can be found in any kind of processed meats, salami, sausage liver, kidneys or other organs, fast food items, duck meat, bacon, palm oil, butter, cheese, pork, coconut, sesame seeds, cashews and a lot more. But are these all the same? It is just “whatever” if we eat a thick hamburger from the well known Macky or a palm full of dry roasted, unsalted cashews? No, it is not the same. Both contain saturated fats? Yes, they do. But the hamburger is definitely unhealthy, the cashews are rich in fibers and actually do you good. How do we make the difference then? Easy: we have to think a little bit about our surroundings to understand. Think about nature and yourself as a human being. You are made of natural stuff, meaning you don’t have any plastic parts or anything, at least when you’re born. Then you would want to support that natural system of yours, also with natural means. Nothing that is over-processed would support your system. So, if you eat a plastic bag you will not get any nutrients from that which would make you go on. I don’t advise you to try it. This is, of course, an extreme example, but not very far from the actual truth. You don’t have to think about, “uups, this is bad because has saturated fats!” No, you have to think about how many processes were involved till you got the thing. The cashews are picked, their shell is being taken off, they are dried and packaged. At least in gross. If the nuts would be roasted, salted, enhanced with this or that taste, they would immediately become “over-processed”, and would contain unhealthy substances. This is the way to think about all foods, the closer they to nature are, the more nutritious they are and more you can use from them for your own well-being.
Unsaturated fats are considered healthy and can be found for example in walnuts, avocado, trout, herring. But again, this label doesn’t mean a thing, because the after process decides if the end-product indeed is good for you or not. The “best” trout could be deep fried, enhanced, conserved and become a biological nightmare. But it can also be grilled with a little salt and served with a salad and could become the healthiest meal. (Just be aware what salad…)
We don’t have to be afraid when we hear “fat”. This is only an unhealthy and improper correlation of two things, the fatty acids and the word fat, which in our western society is considered a negative attribute. Fats doesn’t make you fat, at least don’t make you fatter than you would be from protein or carbohydrates. If you consume more than you need, whatever nutrient it may be, you will indeed get fat. From the over-processed ones you’ll get fat very easy, from the natural ones harder, but eventually, a big quantity will manifest itself.
The three macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) do exist in nature, so they represent a power source, otherwise they wouldn’t exist. God doesn’t make mistakes. In the Stone Age, 25% of the human’s meal was represented by fats. That was natural, what our ancestor felt they needed. Back then they didn’t have TV and didn’t ingest food because they were damn bored of their lives, just as we can not find any obese lions. Studies do show, that around 20% of our food intake should be represented by fats. There you have it. Use caloric charts, to find out about each food, what does it contain, so you can orient yourself. Nothing must be 100% exact because eating is not rocket science, but having a clue, is always good. Knowing is power, and in this case, the power over your body!