What do you think of when you hear the word “fat”?
Most of the time this term has a negative connotation, right?..
Well, I am here to tell you that fat is essential in your diet! Your body NEEDS fats! Fats are essential to the development of the human body. Brain and muscle development requires fats. Hormone production, blood sugar regulation, and vitamin absorption also require fats. Even down to cellular function, our bodies need fats.
What kind of fats are we talking about?
Great question! To begin, there are different types of fat that we consume on a daily basis. There are healthy fats, also known as unsaturated fats, and there are not-so-healthy fats, also known as saturated fats. Because fats have so many important functions in the body, it is better to understand the difference between types of fats rather than try to cut them out all together!
There are different types of these healthy, unsaturated fats, mono and polyunsaturated are their names. Unsaturated fats help to increase HDL cholesterol, or healthy cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated fats help to lower the risk for heart disease and mortality. Polyunsaturated fats, or more commonly known as Omega-3s and Omega-6s, also play many vital roles in the body. These fats are also cardioprotective, assist in muscle movement, blood clotting, and more. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and have a positive effect on improving lipid values. Omega-6s, when consumed in excess, can be inflammatory to the body. The body requires a certain ratio of omega 3:6 consumption and in today’s food industry, there are more Omega-6s consumed than Omega-3s. This can be problematic. A higher consumption of inflammatory foods can lead to systemic inflammation and a plethora of health issues from there.
Monounsaturated fats are highest in:
Omega 3s are highest in:
Omega-6s are highest in:
Saturated fats have been found to raise cholesterol levels, particularly the LDL, or bad cholesterol levels. Elevated LDL cholesterol levels have been linked to increased inflammation and an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and Type II Diabetes. Saturated fats are typically found in fried foods and animal-based products such as meat and dairy, but also in tropical oils.
Foods high in saturated fat:
So what fats should we eat??
A higher intake of unsaturated fats and Omega-3s can improve your lipid profile (cholesterol levels) and also contribute to anti-inflammatory effects such as lowering your risk for heart disease, Type II Diabetes, and even Alzheimers. Begin by increasing your healthy fat consumption. Try swapping out beef or pork for fish 1-2 times per week and try swapping out carbohydrate-dense snacks for a handful of nuts or seeds. Instead of cooking or baking with coconut oil, use avocado or olive oil.
It is hard to avoid all saturated fats in your diet however, simply becoming more aware of the fats you are consuming will help you to begin to make different choices. I always recommend consulting a dietitian or health professional, like myself, who can help guide you in terms of how much fat your body needs each day. Daily intake per person varies as fats are the most calorie dense foods. The amount of fat your body needs also varies depending on your age, sex, activity level, health diagnosis, and more.
If you are curious about improving your cholesterol levels, decreasing your risk for disease, and want to begin incorporating healthy fats into your diet, reach out to us today!