Importance of Fat
Fat- the macronutrient we all love to hate. If you find yourself nitpicking at any flap of extra skin you should know that fat serves an important function in the body and each of us need it. Fat makes up the inner lining of our skin and hair and helps the body to absorb vitamins A, K, E, and D. In addition, fat helps to provide protection to our organs and leaves us feeling full and satisfied when included in a meal. Fat can come from both plants and animals but if you can guess, some are more beneficial than others. Although all sources of fat contribute the same 9 calories per gram, the unsaturated types of fat have been linked to certain health benefits, while saturated and trans fats have been linked to heart disease. When choosing fats, save yourself the heartache and opt for the unsaturated types in moderation. Down below are the sources of fats to limit and fats to include.
Fats to Limit
Of the various types of fat, trans fats are considered the most unhealthy. Trans fats are made artificially to extend the shelf life of products and are most commonly found in packaged pastries, cookies, and fried foods. Trans fats have been shown to raise cholesterol which affects the heart and arteries. A cheap treat that just isn’t worth it.
Another source of fat that acts similar to trans is saturated fat. Saturated fat is found in both natural and artificial sources. Some common sources include dairy, red meat, coconut oil, palm oil, and processed/fried foods. These types of fats are usually solid at room temperature and can also affect the heart. Like with everything else, these treats should be eaten in moderation to avoid any harm.
Fats to Include
Now let’s get into the good stuff and talk about the unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats can be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, depending on their structure.
Monounsaturated fats are commonly found in avocado, nuts, and olive oil. They have been shown to increase the “good” cholesterol while also reducing the “bad” cholesterol in the body. This has been shown to protect against heart disease
The polyunsaturated fats that are found in plant-based oils such as sunflower, soybean, and corn are considered to be omega-6 fatty acids. On the other hand, the polyunsaturated fats that are derived from walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil and certain types of seafood are considered omega-3 fatty acids. Both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are important to support mental health and have been linked to lower the “bad” cholesterol in the body. Add these to your diet and you’ll be happy you did.
Ways to Add Unsaturated Fat
- Top your salad with nuts or seeds
- Make a chia pudding by soaking 1/4 cup of chia seeds into 1 cup of milk overnight of choice (top with fruit & any other additional toppings)
- Add flax seeds to your smoothies or oatmeal
- Saute your veggies in olive oil instead of coconut oil
- Add avocado to your sandwich instead of mayo
To recap here is a list of healthy sources of fat to include in your diet:
- vegetable oils (ex. avocado, canola, sunflower)
- nuts and nut butter
- seeds (ex. pumpkin, flax, chia)
I hope this helps to give you perspective on what the right fats can do to improve your health. Although all fats will contribute to weight gain if eaten in excessive amounts, don’t be afraid to add in some natural sources to help you feel full and satisfied. As always leave your comments and questions down below, or direct message me and I would be more than happy to help you out.