Research studies have discovered that certain fats may actually be beneficial to our health and that we should eat more fat, not less. When it comes to eating healthy and weight loss, people tend to get confused about what kind and how much fat they should be eating.
Fat is necessary for good health, however, some types of fat are healthier choices than others. Fats supply calories for energy, help protect organs and keep your body warm. Healthy fats also help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K.
So, is Fat Bad for your Health?
The bottom line, fat is not bad for your health. Fats play an important role in regulating hormones, maintaining a healthy brain, and improving the immune system. There are several reasons why people believe that fat intake is the cause of disease. First, fat is high in calories. It has 9 calories per gram as opposed to 4 grams in carbohydrates and protein.
When you cut back one macronutrient you have to increase your intake of others. Generally, a low-fat diet results in eating more carbohydrates, which turn into sugar, and the main cause of weight gain and heart disease. You must understand that many “fat-free” foods simply replace the fat with additional sugar or salt, which is generally unhealthy.
In addition, fat helps us feel full and satisfied after a meal. It can prevent overeating in the long-run, help with weight maintenance, and improve overall aging.
Fat has also been blamed as the main cause of heart disease. Numerous studies indicate that there is no connection between healthy fat intake and the risk of heart disease. In fact, many fats, such as omega-3 fats help lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes. For example, fish and fish oil are healthy for the heart and hormones.
Think of this way, if all fats are bad then why is our brain 40% fat? How would we even think without good fats?
Fats are generally classified into four main categories:
Monounsaturated Fat: These are the healthiest types of fat, known to lower LDL cholesterol. Foods that are high in monounsaturated fats include olive oil, nuts, and avocados.
Polyunsaturated Fat: Some polyunsaturated fats, like omega-3 fats, are extremely healthy. Healthy polyunsaturated fats include fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Other polyunsaturated fats, like certain vegetable oils, have been found to increase inflammation, so avoid processed oils such as vegetable and corn oils.
Saturated Fat: Saturated fats are found mostly in animal meat such as beef and pork, dairy products, and certain tropical oils, like coconut and palm oil. The jury is still out on how much-saturated fat should be included in our diets, for now the recommendation remains at no more than 10% of daily calorie intake.
Trans Fat: Trans fats are man-made fats designed to extend the shelf-life of packaged foods. They have been found to significantly increase inflammation and the main risk of heart disease. Trans fats should always be avoided. Types of trans fat include hydrogenated oil, fried fat foods, bakery products, potato and corn chips, crackers, pizza, canned frosting, and sweet pies.
How to Add Healthy Fats to Your Diet:
Just because fats might be beneficial doesn’t make it a free food. Due to the high-calorie content of most fats, they should still be eaten in moderation if you’re looking to lose weight. However, it’s best to use full-fat products instead of fat-free. These will make you feel more satisfied after eating.
When cooking with fat, stick with healthy oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, or walnut oil (add to the salad). A teaspoon is usually enough to help prevent foods from sticking. Nuts and avocados are great sources of monounsaturated fats and also make for tasty snacks. To boost your omega-3 intake eat wild caught fatty fish at least twice a week.
Healthy fats include:
- Olive oil
- Fish oil
- Cold expeller pressed plant oils (grapeseed, walnut, sesame)
- Coconut oil
- Walnut oil
Avoid Bad fats such as vegetable oil, canola oils, and corn oil.
In the United States, we eat far too many processed foods that contain refined, partially hydrogenated, and so-called “heart-healthy” oils such as peanut, cottonseed, canola (grapeseed), vegetable, and corn.
The best thing to do is avoid trans-fats; limit the saturated fats and replace them with monounsaturated & polyunsaturated fats.
Health benefits of healthy fats include:
- Boost the immune system
- Supercharged brain health
- Improved memory and recall
- Enhance weight loss
- Prevent Alzheimer’s
- Reverse type 2 Diabetes
- Prevent heart disease
- Reverse heart disease
- Body detox
- Balance hormones
The dietary reference intake (DRI) for fat in adults is 20 to 35 percent of total calories a day. However, strive to consume more fats per day from types of healthy fats since they provide many health benefits.