Not only is fat good for us, it’s essential for our well-being. There is a catch, of course – it needs to be right kind of fat.
What is the right kind of fat? Well, it’s not the kind of fat most of us in the Western world devour – saturated fat from dairy products, meats and most varieties of margarine.
The types of fat we need for our health and well-being are polyunsaturated fats called Omega 3 and Omega 6. The best sources for these essential fats are found in fish (particularly oily fish like mackerel and salmon), nuts and seeds and their oils, wheat germ, avocados and soya.
To quote Patrick Holford in his book “The optimum nutrition bible”:
“Essential fats reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, eczema, depression, fatigue, infections, PMS.”
These two types of essential fats – according to Holford - keep the blood thin (which prevents clots and blockages) lowers blood pressure, decreases inflammation and pain, improves nerve and immune function, helps insulin to work (good for blood sugar balance) and are essential for proper brain function.
And still most of us eat way too little of these essential fats, while we stuff ourselves with severely un-healthy saturated fat!
The best source for Omega 3 is oily fish. Other good sources for Omega 3 fats –although not as potent as the Omega 3 in oily fish – are chia and flax seeds (linseeds) followed by hemp and pumpkin seeds and oils.
Omega 6 is found in abundance in hemp, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds. Walnuts, soybeans and wheat germ are also rich in Omega 6 fats.
How can you make sure that you get enough of these essential fats? It’s a good idea to eat lots of seeds! Stock up on flax seeds (linseeds), chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
Flax seeds need to be ground up – use a coffee or spice grinder or buy them already ground - but all of these seeds are even more potent when ground up. Drink plenty of fluid when eating flax seeds.
Sprinkle them over your morning porridge, yogurt or add them to a bircher muesli. Add them to a salad. Holford recommends a couple of tablespoons per day.
If you eat fish, eat oily fish as well a couple of times per week.
I recently decided to make my own healthy snack bars, using seeds, walnuts (also rich in Omega 6), almonds and dried apricots. Almonds and apricots are rich sources of vitamins and have a high fibre content.
I added chia seeds to these snack bars. You’ll find them in health food shops but if you can’t get hold of them, use flax seeds (linseeds) instead.
When it comes to dried apricots, buy organic ones. Naturally dried apricots have a dark “brownish” colour. As producers are afraid that this will turn off buyers they treat the dried apricots with sulphur dioxide to give them the colour apricots have when fresh.
You have to soak the dried apricots in water for a couple of hours but apart from that, they are easy to make.
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds/flax seeds
10 walnut halves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
10 dried organic apricots – soaked in water for a couple of hours
1 teaspoon raw honey (optional)
Place the seeds, walnuts and almonds in a food processor and grind to a coarse mix. Add the cinnamon, soaked apricots and honey, if using, to the food processor and pulse for a further 10-20 seconds.
Place the mix on a piece of baking parchment and use your hands to form into a rectangular bar. Cut the bar into 4 or 5 pieces. Wrap each piece in baking parchment first, and then cling film. Store these healthy snack bars in the fridge.
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