Fats vs Carbs


We have been led to believe over the past few decades that fat is our enemy and that we should avoid it at all costs, but fats are not something we should be avoiding. They should form part of a healthy, balanced diet 

Healthy fats provide us with the essential fatty acids that the body can’t make itself. Our bodies also need fats to help make hormones so if we deprive our bodies of fats, we run the risk of disrupting our hormone balance as well. Fats are also needed so that the body can absorb fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E and K.

Studies have shown that fats are not necessarily associated with raised cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, but rather it is our carbohydrate intake that increases our risk for chronic disease. The type of fat we consume as well as the quantity and quality of the carbohydrates and sugars we consume with fats is where the problem comes in.

Refined and processed foods have very little nutritional benefit and are usually loaded with calories and sugars that the body cannot utilize. Excess sugars get stored as fat and cause fatty deposits in the arteries and around the organs. Conditions like non-alcoholic fatty liver syndrome are caused by excess intake of unhealthy fats, carbohydrates, and sugars.

Types of fats:

Saturated fats

These are predominantly found in animal products such as meat and dairy products but can also be found in some plant foods. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature so think of butter, the fat on a piece of steak or lamb chop, and coconut or palm oil.

Trans fats

These are unhealthy fats that can be found in most processed foods and some baked goods. They are also present in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. These fats are high risk for raised cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.

Monounsaturated fats

These are healthy fats found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts such as almonds, peanuts, and Brazil nuts.

Polyunsaturated fats

These are also healthy fats which get in our diets through the consumption of foods rich in omega 3 and omega 6.

It is important for us to include healthy fats in our diets. Fats provide energy and insulation. They cushion the organs, help with nutrient absorption and support cell growth. Fats keep our fatty tissue, like our brains and cell membranes, healthy so they really are essential for our bodies to function properly. Good fats also help to keep our good and bad cholesterol in balance.

Low fat products are usually loaded with sugars so have a higher carbohydrate value than full fat options. Rather consume smaller quantities of full fat products, which are more likely to keep your blood sugar levels stable and will be more filling. 

Fats take longer to digest so they keep us fuller for longer and help with appetite control. Instead of eating more carbs when you’re hungry maybe try increasing your fat intake or at least combining fats with slow releasing carbs for the best results.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 7 April 2023 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am