The Skinny on the Fats in Ample
How did you decide on the specific fats to put in Ample? What's the role of fat in a healthy diet? Why are these fats less unhealthy than other fats you left out?
—Joseph, Oakland, CA
Hey buddy, great question! There are actually several different fats in Ample:
macadamia nut oil, coconut oil, chia seed, algae oil, and sunflower lecithin.
In a nutshell, they are all necessary for different reasons. People think about fats in a relatively simplistic way, but there are actually 30+ different fatty acids that your body needs. The goal of Ample is to be comprehensive, so we needed to not only make sure there’s enough of every fatty acid, but also to be certain that there’s a healthy portion of the “good” fats, while limiting the unstable ones.
There are 3 different overarching “categories” of fats — saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fats — and we need all of them to different degrees.
The amount of saturation refers to the number of structural “kinks” in the fat, which cause differences in the way they’re used and processed but we can nerd out about that later.
Saturated fat, far from being the ugly stepchild of the fat family, is actually super useful for your body . It is not the heart-disease-causing molecule your mother may have warned you about.
In Ample, I used coconut oil as the source of saturated fat. It, over almost every option, has a full-spectrum of fatty acids. Saturated fats are segmented by length — there are several short-chain, medium-chain, and long-chain fatty acids. Coconut oil has all 3 in decent quantity. All of these fats do different things biologically, but it’s enough to know that it’s a damn good source of all three! And it happens to taste good too!
Macadamia nut oil
Mono-unsaturated fats can be understood as energy-source fats. This is where the macadamia nut oil comes in. Mono-unsaturated fats are also found in avocado, olive, almonds, other nuts, and select seeds. The problem with most mono-unsaturated fat sources is that most of the nuts and seeds also happen to have a bunch of omega-6 fats (we’ll get to them in a moment), which happen to be highly inflammatory (read: bad). Of the foods high in monounsaturated oil that DON’T have a lot of polyunsaturated omega-6 oils, there’s only avocado, olive, and macadamia. Why not avocado or olive? They taste TERRIBLE when paired with everything else in Ample. And yes, I did test it. Not pretty ; ) Hence, macadamia nut was the clear winner.
The last major category of fatty acids that the human body uses is polyunsaturated fats. These guys are essential for some key processes in the brain, but they’re also super unstable — as in they can get damaged easily . However, we could break these into two big sections, which everyone has heard of: omega-3 and omega-6. (The term “omega” just refers to the location of the last “kink” in the fat. Once again, cool for nerding out later if you want, but not essential — unlike the fats themselves! (that was a fatty acid joke, since these guys actually are the “essential fats”. We need them both, but in low, and in pretty equal amounts.
Chia seed oil
You’ve probably heard that omega-3 fats are “the good” ones. This is true (in small doses). Some people take fish oil to get their daily dose of omega-3. We COULD’VE used fish oil. But try convincing someone to have powdered, rancid fish oil. Good luck! But fish oil does have a few types of really awesome oils that the body needs — ALA, DHA, and EPA. But, because of taste, we decided on Chia seed oil instead. Chia seeds provide an awesome source of ALA (alpha linolenic acid), but not much of the other two. And while the human body can actually convert ALA to EPA, and then to DHA, this isn’t very efficient (like 1-8% to DHA) . So how do we get the DHA we need?
Algae oil is an amazing source of DHA, and in tandem with Chia seed oil, makes Ample a complete source of all the ALA, EPA, and DHA you need from a meal. But how about the omega-6 side?
Sunflower seeds are packed with an essential omega-6 called linoeic acid. Once again, though essential, we DON’T need much of it. The human body should have an almost even ratio of omega 6 to omega 3, but the standard American diet has a ratio of over 17 to 1! So we really want to limit omega-6s in Ample. This is why I had to choose macadamia nut oil above, instead of other seeds with a high omega-6 content as well.
I admit I just got carried away into the details. I’m passionate about nutrition, and have spent a long time thinking of the most optimal collection of fats that can make Ample as close as it can be to the “perfect” meal. But to summarize our goal was to build Ample with a complete spectrum of fatty acids, which means adequate quantities of all useful saturated and monounsaturated fats, and limited but important quantities of omega-3s, while not overdoing the omega-6s, which people so often do. LMK if you’ve got anymore questions on it. I’m always happy to talk!