What is dietary fat?
Fat is one of the three main macronutrients. Similar to proteins and carbohydrates our bodies need fat in order to work as efficiently as possible! Fat gives our bodies some energy, helps absorb vitamins and protects our heart and brain health. Fats also play a role in helping manage our mood, fight fatigue, and control our weight.
You may have heard in the past that people were told that eating fat will cause you to gain weight and have other health issues. However, this is not the case. Not all fat sources are the same and there are very important fat sources that are beneficial to our health.
The Difference In Both Types of Fat
Since having an appropriate amount of healthy fats is necessary for a well balanced diet, instead of thinking about how you can have a low-fat diet, it’s more important to focus on eating more of the beneficial or “good” fats and limiting more of the harmful or “bad” fats.
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the healthy fats and are good for your heart, your cholesterol and overall health. These fats can help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, blood pressure and prevent hardening and narrowing of the arteries. Adding more of these healthy fats to your diet may also help to make you feel more satisfied after a meal, reducing hunger and thus promoting weight loss.
Some examples of monounsaturated fat sources include olive, canola and peanut oils, avocados, nut butters, and nuts. Some examples of polyunsaturated fats include sunflower, sesame, pumpkin seeds, and fatty fish including salmon, tuna and sardines.
Trans fats are the fats that you want to limit or stay away from in your diet. Small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats can be found in meat and dairy products but it’s artificial trans fats that are considered dangerous. This type of fat can raise cholesterol levels, cause inflammation and increase your risk of heart disease or stroke. The Food and Drug Administration is working on outlawing the use of artificial trans-fats in commercially prepared food, but it’s still important to carefully read food labels. Saturated fat is not as harmful as trans fats but can still have negative effects on heart health so it is best to consume this in moderation.
Common sources of trans fats include pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough, packaged snack foods such as crackers and chips, fried foods such as french fries, fried chicken, and chicken nuggets.
Remember that you do need the appropriate fat sources in your diet. Instead of trying to completely cut fat out of your diet, focus on getting the right fat sources in. A well balanced diet containing all three macronutrients will give you the best results in your journey.