Menopause and Body Fat

Most women will increase the amount of body fat prior to and during menopause.  Some women will even lose body fat and there are many theories as to why. Commonly, weight gain in menopause is associated with the change in balance of the female hormones.

Due to hormonal changes that take place during menopause, it is valuable to ensure a diet that is rich in good oils and fats. The physical changes that take place at this time can lead to drier, flakier skin and changes in body weight, sometimes drastically more and sometimes less.

Fats are a necessary and essential part of any diet as they help to transport fat-soluble vitamins around the body and to store them, as well as helping to supply bodily warmth, energy and being a valuable part of vital hormonal & cellular processes.

Firstly though, what exactly is fat?

one pound of fat

What is fat?

Fat is actually a nutrient or food that the body needs to function healthily. Fats are used to store energy in the body, insulate body tissues, cushion internal organs, and transport fat-soluble vitamins in the blood.

Fats also assist in the transmission of nerve impulses, hormonal production and brain functioning. In the same way that we need to eat fresh fruit and vegetables for their vitamins and minerals, we also need to include fat in our diet. Essentially fats are either digested as solids or liquids.

Good Fat Versus Bad Fat

Fats which are beneficial for health are known as the ‘good fats’ and fats which are considered unhealthy called the 'bad fats.'

Bad fats, also known as solid or saturated fats because they are solid at room temperature. Saturated fats include cream, butter, hard cheeses. Animal and dairy products contain a high quantity of bad or solid fat.

Good fats are generally those which are liquid at room temperature  - such as olive, peanut and sunflower oils - and these are more commonly known as monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat.

More about Good Fats

Monounsaturated fat is often referred to as the 'healthy' fat because, when eaten in moderation, it can help reduce a build up of cholesterol in the blood. This will in turn assist your health as monounsaturated fat lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke as well as providing protection to the body’s cells.

some fats are healthy

Monounsaturated Fat or the Healthy Fat

Monounsaturated fats are found in olives, olive oil, groundnut oil, nuts, and avocados.

Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats.

Dietary fat serves as a carrier for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Collectively, these vitamins maintain healthy skin, aid in blood clotting, strengthen bones and help to maintain physical health.

Monounsaturated fats are found in both plant and animal products, such as olive oil,  peanut oil, and in some plant foods such as avocado.

Monounsaturated Fats help to reduce Bad Cholesterol

The so-called "Mediterranean diet" is rich in monounsaturated oils such as olive oil. Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.  They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells. 

Monounsaturated fats are also typically high in vitamin E, an excellent antioxidant vitamin which helps to maintain a healthy heart.

Food Sources of Monounsaturated Fats

    * Olive oil
    * Peanut oil
    * Sunflower oil
    * Almonds
    * Raw Macadamia Nuts
    * Peanuts
    * Almond Oil
    * Pickled or bottled olives
    * Apricot kernel oil
    * Mustard oil
    * Sesame oil
    * Avocados
    * Peanut butter as well as a variety of nuts and seeds.

Polyunsaturated Fats beneficial for one's health

Polyunsaturated fats are also typically liquid at room temperature including cooking oils such as safflower, grape seed, sunflower and corn.

Polyunsaturated fats are considered especially beneficial for one’s health, by helping to lower blood cholesterol and can assist in the prevention of heart disease. Also they may help to reduce the symptoms of arthritis, other joint problems and certain skin conditions.

Food Sources of Polyunsaturated Fats

    * Soybean oil
    * Corn oil
    * Safflower oil
    * Fatty fish such as salmon
    * Mackerel
    * Herring
    * Trout
    * Walnuts
    * Sunflower seeds

Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids

Over the last 10 years or so, science has firmly established the importance of having these fatty acids called "omega 3 and Omega 6" in your diet. Amongst other things, they help the body absorb certain vitamins and also help maintain healthy brain function. Click here for more information on --> Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids

The Bad Fats or Solid Fats

Solid fats are also known as saturated fats. These are fats which are solid or waxy at room temperature. Saturated fats increase cholesterol levels in the blood stream. An excess of cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease and strokes.

Why is Saturated Fat considered to be ‘bad’

Saturated fats or solid fats are only needed in our diets in small quantities, but they are nonetheless, an essential part of a healthy diet.

Too many saturated fats in one’s diet are considered to be ‘bad’ as they increase cholesterol levels. Saturated fat is considered to be the "villain" fat, because it is known to increase health risks if too much is eaten over a long period of time.

What does Saturated Fat look like?

After cooking roast beef, lamb or bacon, you can often see in the pan fat, which as it cools, becomes solid again. This is the saturated fat, which has melted out of the meat and then has solidified again. Saturated fat is often white in colour such as the rind on bacon.

The Function of Saturated Fats

Saturated fats help to provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones as well as providing energy. We need fat in order to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption and for a host of other processes.

Food Sources of Saturated Fat

    * Palm kernel oil
    * Whole milk
    * Chocolate
    * Butter
    * Ice Cream
    * The skin of chicken & Turkey
    * Meat
    * Meat products
    * Dairy products
    * Coconut oil
    * Hard Cheeses
    * Biscuits
    * Pastries
    * Crisps

What is Cholesterol

Most people think that cholesterol is just another name for fat. It is not quite as simple as that however. Cholesterol is similar to fat in some ways, and it has a waxy feel to it. Did you know that the human body actually makes cholesterol as part of its natural processes because the body needs cholesterol at certain times in its daily activities on a cellular level. Problems occur if the wrong type of cholesterol is found in excessive quantities.

Cholesterol like molecular structures are also found in certain foods such as milk, cheese, eggs & meat. This is why some studies have suggested that eating too much of these foods contribute to the problem. When there is an excess, a number of health difficulties can occur and amongst others, we commonly see arterial blockages which can lead to strokes and heart attacks.

Click here for more information on cholesterol and your health.

Trans Fats

Trans Fats are considered to be the worst kind of fat available and many packaged foods now pride themselves on being free of Trans-fats.

Trans Fats or transited fats or chains of fats called fatty acids are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid such as with margarine.