Good Fats and Where to Find Them

It can be tempting to view fat as the arch enemy of an active and fulfilling lifestyle. Eliminate fat, common logic says, and your diet issues will be solved and that personal best will be within reach.

But things are not that simple. Because while saturated and artificial trans fats remain gremlins as far as your arteries, cholesterol and body weight are concerned, there are other types that can be welcomed into your diet. In fact, they should form an essential part of it.

Let’s take a look at some examples of “good fats” and find out where they’re hiding.

Monounsaturated fats

We begin with a little bit of science: (clears throat) the term monounsaturated refers to fats containing a double-bonded atom; polyunsaturated fats have multiple double bonds and unsaturated none at all. But you don’t really need to know that, did you?

What is important, though, is that when consumed in moderation monounsaturated fats can positively impact cholesterol levels and help reduce the risk of heart disease. Research also tells us they can positively maintain blood sugar and insulin levels. Many culinary oils are high in these friendly fats, with olive oil leading the way at 75%. So drizzle away!

Mediterranean diets typically contain many ingredients high in friendly fats, and though they tend to be higher in fat overall than their northern European equivalents rates of heart disease are much lower. It’s the type of fat that matters, folks.

Polyunsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats are not produced naturally by our bodies but we still need them. They allow the body to build cell membranes, use muscles and regulate heart rhythm and blood clotting. Some have also credited them with playing a part in preventing heart disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and even eczema.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 are the two main types - the corresponding numbers referring to the distance between the beginning of the carbon chain and the first double bond in each - and both can be agents for good. In moderation.

You may have heard of Omega-3, which is not the wonder fat it is often advertised as but does combat blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Fish lovers will be pleased to learn that oily fish such as mackerel and salmon are high in it, as are walnuts and leafy vegetables (which probably have fewer fans).

Omega-6, found in many oils (sunflower, walnut, soy), is more common so don’t worry as much about seeking it out. If you can match up you Omega-3 intake with your Omega-6 then you’re pretty much golden!

Combining oatcakes with toppings and foods rich in good fats

So now you know which fats to eat, how about some simple combinations using our virtuous Nairn’s oatcakes to help you along?

Start your day off the right way with some smashed avocado (combine in a bowl with a drizzle of olive or rapeseed oil, chilli flakes, coriander and lime juice) smeared over a Nairn’s Cracked Black Pepper oatcake.

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For a more substantial meal, see if any of these tickle your fancy: grilled sardines on our Fine Milled oatcakes dressed with chilli oil; souped-up salad Niçoise with seared tuna, black olive and quail’s eggs rolled and scotched in crushed oatcakes; and seared duck with toasted pumpkin seeds and pickled mushrooms accompanied by our Nairn's Sunflower and Pumpkin Seed oatcakes.

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By incorporating these types of dishes into a wide and varied diet, fat will soon become a force for good!