Fats

have been living in Mombasa for a couple of years now; in fact both my children are born and raised here. Living in this beautiful city of Kenya guarantees oceans of tasty foods, be it breakfast, snacks lunch or dinner. The coastal people are known to cook for hours and what comes out of their kitchens is tantalizing. There are all kinds of fats used to cook food, Cowboy for chapati, nazi (coconut) for wali and pojo (green grams), to oils (commonly known as salad here) used to deep fry while ghee and butter are used for other foods. By and by as you enjoy these foods, the girth becomes more rounded and the walking becomes slower.

What to do? Boil all foods or eat them raw? There are a lot of discussions on fats, good fats, bad ones, to avoid or to add.

What we need to know is this; fat is an essential nutrient and must be added to our diet. It not only serves as an energy source, it is responsible for the construction of every cell in our body and in the regulation of most of our bodily processes.

So how much fat should one take? This is majorly determined by caloric needs of an individual. The range is as follows:

Total calories 
per day
Total fat 
recommended
1,600 53 g
2,0001 65 g
2,200 73 g
2,5001 80 g
2,800 93 g

Mainly dietitians recommend that the fats comes from foods that are rich in Omega-3 and Omega- 6 fatty acids (healthy fats) and limit in saturated and Trans fats (unhealthy fats).

A good example is to opt to cook with coconut oil instead of vegetable fats. Or choosing to eat a handful of nuts as a snack instead of deep fried foods.

Here’s an example of healthy fat sources and their calorie and fat content

Food item Portion Calories Total fats Saturated
Avocado 28.4 g 45.8 g 4.1 g 0.6 g
Chia seeds 28.4 g 138 9 g 0.9 g
Flax seeds 28.4 g 154 12 g 1.1 g
Peanuts 28.4 g 165 14.4 g 2 g
Cashew nuts 28.4 g 157 12 g 2.2 g
Coconut oil 28.4 g 245 28 g 24 g
Olive oil 28.4 g 250 29.4 g 4 g
Chicken 1 c=140 g 335 19 g 5 g
Tilapia ( fillet) 87 g 112 2.3 g 0.8g
Oysters 6 pieces=88 g 175 11 g 2.8 g
Egg 1 large=50 g 78 5 g 1.6 g
Cheese –Mozzarella 28.4 g 78 4.8 g 3 g
Cheese-Blue 28.4 g 100 8 g 5 g
Cheese-cheddar 28.4 g 114 9 g 6 g
Cheese-Parmesan 28.4 g 122 8 g 4.9 g

The ones mentioned above are also very good sources of proteins. Fats are good even for those who want to lose weight. They provide satiety and hence help curb unnecessary snacking. Foods rich in fats are however also calorie dense hence we recommend small quantities for example, a handful of nuts, a tablespoon of oil, a slice of cheese or avocado.

The coastal dishes can therefore be enjoyed without guilt. For example, have ‘wali wanazi’ with a vegetable salad that has ¼ avocados instead of with beef goulash stew.   And of course put in your daily requirement of workout.