🟢 “Nutrient-dense” unsaturated fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats: lower disease risk. Foods high in good fats include vegetable oils (such as olive, avocado & sunflower), nuts, seeds, and fish. This is where our trust OMEGA 3's fall!
🟡 Saturated fats: while not as harmful as trans fats, saturated fats negatively impact health and are best consumed in moderation. Foods containing large amounts of saturated fat include red meat, butter, cheese, and ice cream. Some plant-based fats like coconut oil and palm oil are also rich in saturated fat.
🔴 “Nutrient-poor” fats, trans fats: increase disease risk, even when eaten in small quantities. Foods containing trans fats are primarily in processed foods made with trans fat from partially hydrogenated oil. Fortunately, trans fats have been eliminated from many of these foods
Where can we find Omega 3 fatty acids in the body?
Omega 3’s are found most abundantly in the brain 🧠 (recall: “B”’s topic “Blood Brain Barrier”) and the eyes 👁️, therefore, they are known to support normal growth, visual acuity, cognitive development. These Omega 3’s, whether consumed via foods like oils, nuts, seeds, soybeans, seafood or as supplements, are also noteworthy in immune response to injury & infection by catalyzing inflammation, fever, and pain receptors.
What role to fats play in fitness and working out?
In terms of exercise / fitness, fat is the dominant energy source when performing low aerobic power outputs (walking, light cycling, etc.); however, as the exercise gets more intense, the source of energy starts to shift away from fats and becomes more reliant on carbohydrates...specifically those quick-digesting carbs (i.e.: fruit like berries & bananas or toast).
How are fats digested?
Many foods we eat typically contain some mixture of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins (the 3 macronutrient). All three types are digested and later utilized throughout the body in vastly different mechanisms.
The moment we drop food into our mouths (let's say it's a beautiful chunk of Manchego cheese!!), a small amount of the fat from this Manchego chunk starts to get digested by little guys & gals hanging out in your saliva. The rest of the nutrient-goodies from this Manchego are passed down the throat and off to the small intestine (S.I.) - where guys & gals sun bathing along your S.I. snip the cheese up, pluck out the nutrients, and pass them along to the liver. In the liver, these delicious Manchego-fatty-nutrients are packaged up with a handful of fat soluble nutrients, like calcium, then tied with a beautiful bow.
These fatty acids are taken up by cells in muscles, organs, and adipose tissue and either stored or metabolized for energy, depending on the body’s energy needs.
The optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is somewhere near 4:1, depending on the population studied. However, the typical Western diet, with a high intake of processed foods, including vegetable oils, tends to include much higher amounts of omega-6 for a ratio closer to 10:1 or 20:1 (source: NASM). There is some speculation that this imbalance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the Western diet is one factor related to higher rates of inflammation and chronic disease. However, more of the evidence appears to be linked with obesity and sedentary behavior than the actual dietary ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.