Healthy Fats & Lower Carb Diets

by Leanne Ward
Gone are the days that we thought “all fats are bad”. We now know that fats are important and what’s more important is the type of fat we consume. But first, let’s start off by defining what exactly a fat is and the different types of fats.
The blog is written in collaboration with Wellgrove

What is a fat?

In our diets, we have three macronutrients. Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins.  Alcohol is actually considered a fourth one (by some people) but as it is not actually healthy or needed in our diet, it’s not a necessary macronutrient like carbs, fats and proteins are.

Different types of fats

Just like macronutrients, there are three types of fats:

  • Unsaturated fats
    • Monounsaturated fats
    • Polyunsaturated fats
      • Omega-3 fatty acids
      • Omega-6 fatty acids
  • Saturated fats
  • Trans fats

For ease, we are going to refer to unsaturated fats as our “healthy” fats and saturated fat and trans fats as our “unhealthy” fats or “sometimes” fats.

Unsaturated fats are our “good” fats and are mostly found in plant sources and some oils. There are two types of unsaturated fats; monounsaturated fats (avocado, almonds, pumpkin seeds and olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats(fish, flaxseeds, walnuts and sunflower seeds). A subclass of polyunsaturated fats are omega-3’s, which are incredibly healthy for heart health (found in fish), and omega-6’s which are found in foods such as soybean oil and brazil nuts.

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and can sometimes be called “unhealthy” even though they can be found in some healthy products such as dairy products. They are mostly found in animal-based products such as butter, meat and coconut and also as an addition to many packaged and processed foods such as potato chips, cakes and biscuits. Too many saturated fats in your diet can increase your blood cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease. It’s recommended to trim your meats and other animal products prior to cooking them to reduce the saturated fats.

Trans fats are semi-solid at room temperature and have been processed so they model and behave like saturated fats. Trans fats are predominately found in processed and packaged foods and most deep-fried foods and take-aways like pizza and hamburgers. We want to reduce them as much as possible and swap trans and saturated fats for unsaturated fats where able.

So what about coconut oil?

There’s a lot of hype in the media about coconut oil being the most superior fat. Proponents of coconut oil claim it can “burn fat”, reduce your appetite, keep dementia and Alzheimer’s disease away and even claim it has anti-microbial and anti-viral properties.  

Coconut oil is considered a saturated fat, but many of the health claims relating to coconut oil are actually about medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and are also untrue. The majority of coconut oils on the market are not medium-chain triglycerides, they behave more like long-chain fatty acids. The predominant fat in most coconut oils is lauric acid. Lauric acid is not and does not behaviour like other MCTs. The research has shown lauric acid behaves as both a medium- and long-chain fatty acid from a metabolic standpoint. Although the research has now shown that coconut oil behaves a little differently to other saturated fats (so not considered as “bad”), it still appears to raise unhealthy cholesterol in the blood (along with also raising healthy cholesterol).

So, what’s my take on coconut oil if you are wanting to add more healthy fats to your diet? I personally believe that we should be eating foods that have strong research to back them and also contain positive health benefits. Coconut oil is something I think we can use sparingly as it has a “neutral” effect on our health.  Extra-virgin olive oil is my top pick for oils and fats because, not only is it positively geared towards our health, it has strong research studies to back it. There’s no doubt, the title of the “healthiest oil on earth” goes to extra-virgin olive oil.

The research on extra virgin olive oil

Unlike coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) contains a unique range of plant compounds and antioxidants including polyphenols, squalene and α-Tocopherols (vitamin E). Oleic acid, the most prominent fatty acid found in EVOO, has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein and help fight inflammation in the body. Other research has also shown that EVOO can protect against heart disease, help manage blood clotting and help to lower blood pressure. It is, purely and simply, the top oil in the world not only for heart health benefits, but also for weight control when consumed as part of a healthy Mediterranean style diet.

Wellgrove Keto Super Powder

This blog is absolutely not advocating for low carb/keto diets. However, I do acknowledge there is some research to support them being helpful (under the guidance of a dietitian and doctor) for those with obesity, type 2 diabetes, some metabolic diseases and epilepsy. The biggest concern I have with the keto diet is where the fat source is coming from. I do not believe that adding butter to your coffee, coconut oil into your smoothie or processed meats like salami and bacon into every meal is helpful for your health in the long term.

A product that is available on the market is the new Wellgrove Keto Super Powder which is a plant-based, zero-carb fuel source for those who need to or choose to follow a keto type diet. Instead of trans fats and saturated fats which most consume on a keto diet, this powder contains the goodness of Australia Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus a prebiotic fibre (for your gut health).

As discussed above, EVOO is one of the most powerful superfoods and a source of antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats. Wellgrove have developed a unique process to turn their premium quality Cold Pressed Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil into a convenient powder that contains healthy fats and prebiotic fibres (for your gut health) with zero carbohydrates. EVOO helps keep you full and promotes ketosis, making it an ideal fat source for those who choose to follow (or need to follow) a Keto based diet. This powder can also be used as a convenient and easy way to get in extra calories for those who struggle to gain weight or who have been diagnosed with malnutrition.

The Wellgrove Keto Super Powder is a convenient way to get healthy monounsaturated fats into your daily routine. It can be used before or after exercise, in your morning coffee, as an afternoon smoothie snack, or at any time to fuel your body and brain. It’s vegan, FODMAP friendly, and gluten free.

The blog is written in collaboration with Wellgrove

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