Why are good fats and essential fats crucial for optimising your health?
MARCH 02, 2022
Many people hear the word ‘fat’ or ‘fats’ and feel like they should run for the hills! However, classifying all fats as fearful entities is a grave mistake. Some fats are actually vitally important. Essential fats exist that help the body maintain its natural functions and there are also good fats that are crucial for the individual who wants to optimise their health. One of my main goals here at The Odissean Experience is to shed informed light on subjects such as this, and to help those of you who are unable to invest your time delving into these esoteric subjects. The world of good fats and essential fats is one that certainly is worthy of the cause with which I have tasked myself. So, with the malevolence of fats a reality in the minds of many, let us today attempt to shine a light on the topic and turn back the tide in our own little half-acre of the internet. Read on to learn why good fats and essential fats are crucial for optimising your health.
WHAT ARE THE GOOD FATS?
Good fats are also known as unsaturated fats, as opposed to the bad fats being known as saturated fats. Would you be surprised to learn that nearly all natural foods contain some form of fat? And this doesn’t make it unhealthy or any less healthy than it would otherwise have been. Plant-based and animal-based foods need these good fats for many of the same reasons that we do as it provides the functions necessary for existence.
Good and essential fats can be broken down into a number of subcategories.
One subcategory of good fats is known as polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats are found in foods like seeds, fish, vegetable oils, and oysters. Polyunsaturated fats, like monounsaturated fats (to be discussed momentarily) can be very beneficial in moderation and, when replacing the intake of saturated fats, can even reduce the risk of heart disease by causing a diminution in cholesterol levels. A form of polyunsaturated fats is the much-celebrated omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and trout.
As mentioned, monounsaturated fats can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Monounsaturated fats can be found in olive oil, a substance consumed in large quantities in Mediterranean countries, a fact which has been credited with the relatively low levels of heart disease in the region. Heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fats are a strong source of nutrients that are sorely lacking in many diets. These are nutrients like antioxidant vitamin E that are found in foods such as olives, hazelnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, cashews, and avocados.
Essential fatty acids
The next type of fat, that is not only considered a friend but is paramount in our bodily requirements, are essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are fats which the body requires, but which cannot be produced by the body. Hence such fats must be consumed as a part of a healthy diet. One form of essential fatty acids are the aforementioned omega-3s (or alpha-linolenic acid) and also omega-6 (or linoleic acid). We require essential fatty acids for several reasons, including (but not limited to) their necessity for hormone production, regulation of blood pressure, the breakdown of cholesterol, the formation of healthy cell membranes, and for the functioning of the brain.
WHAT DO FATS DO FOR US?
Fat is a source of energy
For what other reasons are good and essential fats crucial for optimising your health? Well, there are a number of points that are worthy of discussion. However, let us today focus on four key areas. First, fat is a source of energy when consumed as food as well as when produced naturally in our bodies. Now, considering this logically for a moment, it becomes quite apparent why this is such a good notion for the individual in pursuit of good health. The energy produced by fats not only provides the energy for important life functions but provides the platform for any serious attempt at attaining fitness.
Fats are an energy store
The next attribute to be commented upon is that good and essential fats act as a plentiful energy store. The extra calories that our bodies consume when digesting fats, but that are not utilised by our bodies right away, are stored until a time when they will be needed. Without this energy reserve, our bodies would be in a sorry state indeed. If for one reason or another, you are unable to access and consume foods that possess the requisite levels of energy, your body will then be able to access the fats previously stored, allowing your regular bodily functions to continue and for you to pursue an active lifestyle.
Fat maintains healthy skin
Another winning component of good fats is that they help to maintain healthy skin and tissue. All of us want to look our best, as feeling good about ourselves has transformative effects on many areas of life. That said, healthy skin isn’t merely an aesthetic goal. The skin is prone to all kinds of ailments that present far more serious consequences than a lack of self-esteem. So, with the knowledge that every bodily cell we possess must contain fats, we can take solace in knowing that by eating good fats we are taking care of ourselves in this department as well.
Fats maintain brain and nerve function
Friends, we wouldn’t get very far without both brain function and the nerves which act as our body’s orchestrators. So, considering that fats help maintain the function of both the human brain (which contains significant quantities of essential fats) and our nerves (where the fatty material called ‘myelin’ wraps around nerve cells which allows them to send electrical messages throughout our bodies), we can see how crucial the consumption of good and essential fats is to our very being. Therefore, ensuring that our bodies are producing and receiving the necessary levels of benign fats is not to be taken lightly.
GOOD FATS AND GOOD HEALTH
I hope the above words have been of use to those of you who may have been misinformed (inadvertently or otherwise) about the topic at hand. If I’ve been successful, it should now be quite clear what the truth of the matter is, that not all fats are created equal. So…fear not all fats, some of which are our allies. Cut out the bad and embrace the good (not a bad motto to live by) as life isn’t black and white.