Eating healthy fats is vital for your body to stay in balance and for your general health. But as you know, not all fats are the same and some types of fats may improve your health while others are unhealthy.
There exists a jungle of knowledge about fat that can be difficult to navigate in. In this article we point out the most important things there is to know about the different fats and their functions so you can make healthy choices.
Why is fat important in our diet?
Besides being a storage of energy on different parts of our body (which of course is a wonderful function), fatty acids have important functions in our bodies for our brain function, our skin and blood. You might have experienced having dry skin or flossy nails? That may be a sign of a diet with not enough fat.
It is actually recommended that 25-40 % of the calories that we eat comes from fats. That may sound like an enormous amount of fat, but there is some sense in the non-sense.
Fat is not only important for our body to function, but it is actually also an important player in our digestion of other foods. For instance, some vitamins are fat-soluble, which means that they can only be absorbed in the gut if we also eat fat in the same meal.
What does saturated, unsaturated and essential fatty acids mean?
Saturated fatty acids (SFAs) are solid fats and primarily found in animal products such as dairy product (butter, milk, cheese) or various meat products, but also in vegetable oils such as palm oil or coconut oil.
Unsaturated fatty acids are different from SFAs as they are more liquid in the texture due chemical differences. Unsaturated fats are present in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, and in seafood.
Essential fatty acids are fats that are vital for our body to function and develop. The word essential tells us that the nutrient cannot be made in our own body, but that we need to get it through our diet. The most common essential fatty acids are Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-3 we get from eating insects, salmon or flaxseed, and omega-6 we can get from most vegetable oils.
What kind of fat is the healthiest for my body?
There has been a long and ongoing debate on whether there are some fats that are more or less healthy for our bodies. The answer is never straight forward when we talk about healthy vs. unhealthy diets.
Research tends to recommend:
- a diet with less saturated, and more unsaturated fats is healthier for you.
- adding more unsaturated fats to your diet may decrease your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by up to 20%
- If you suffer from high blood pressure, you may want to eat some more omega-3 fatty acids, as they are found to lower blood pressure
It is important to say that the diet cannot always be judged out of context but needs to be considered along with a person’s level of physical activity and other lifestyle choices.
Edible insects and healthy fatty acids
Generally, edible insects are a good source to healthy fats and are rich in especially unsaturated fats, including omega-3 and 6, but the fat content varies depending on the insect species. For instance, grasshoppers and crickets contain around 13% of fats, while buffalo worms contain around 25%.
Insects have a healthy fatty acid composition as they are low in SFAs but high in unsaturated fats, which are fats that are good for your brain and your blood! Don’t worry that you will eat too much fat by eating insects. You are very unlikely to eat that many insects that you will overdo it. Besides, insects are a true superfood, as they are high in iron, fibres, magnesium, but also contain a fair amount of calcium and zinc.
Enjoy a few bugs for your meals and boost your health!
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