The health and well-being column with Mel Spencer

Mackerel is a good source of omega 3 essential fatty acids.
Mackerel is a good source of omega 3 essential fatty acids.

This month we are focusing purely on nutrition. To date we have concentrated predominantly on exercise, however, you can’t out-train poor nutrition no matter how hard you try, so it’s worthy of a closer look.

It also gives me the opportunity to do what I get the most enjoyment from in the form of myth busting!

Mel Spencer.

Mel Spencer.

There are three main food groups – fats, carbohydrates and protein.

Today we are taking a look at all things fat related!

So fat – the devil – or so we are lead to believe.

The first thing to say is that fat of the right kind in the right amounts does NOT convert into fat within your body. The reality is that fat is an essential nutrient.

In the 80s fat became a marketing dream for food companies filling their products full of cheap sugar and labelling them “low fat” to make it appear healthy.

Nearly four decades later and fat is slowly becoming recognised as an integral part of a healthy diet, the most common reference being recommendations to eat a “Mediterranean diet” which includes a varied amount of good fats.

You will notice I mention good fats, and not wanting to confuse matters, all we need to know is that there are good and bad fats.

Over the last few years the media have told us about bad fats, namely saturated fats.

As a general rule, most fats that are solid at room temperature are bad fats – ie lard. Bad fats don’t serve any purpose in your nutrition. Good fats provide a number of vital functions including supporting cell growth, brain function, hormone production, healthy skin, hair and nails.

Good fats also help you burn fat!

Yes that’s correct, good fats help you to become slimmer.

So what are good fats?

You will have heard talk of omega 3, 6 and 9 – these are your good fats and derived from plants, fish and nuts/seeds etc.

Of course we shouldn’t over indulge, but having one portion of each of these a day fits perfectly into any health regime.

Finally, beware of those low fat products teaming with sugar – yoghurts are a common one.

They may be low in fat but high in sugar which then gets stored by the body as – you guessed it –fat.

Which leads us nicely onto our next food group, sugar... the real enemy, and our focus for next time.

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