Trick Or Treat?! The Importance Of Fat In a Healthy Diet
Think fat is a villain? Think again! A few years ago the term “perfect fats” would have been considered an oxymoron. But today it’s clear that eating the right kind of fat is not only good for you… but essential to your health. In fact, dietary fat can be an incredible tool for helping you get rid of body fat. Read on to discover why you should eat healthy fat in your diet!
Benefits Of Fat in Your Diet:
- Fats found naturally in foods help protect against heart disease and cancer.
- Fats crank up your metabolic rate and increase the amount of body fat you burn off. Research has shown that when you replace carbohydrates with good sources of fat, your body increases the enzymes that help turn fat into an energy source.
- Fat supplies the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, and it helps your body produce estrogen and progesterone.
- The right kind of fats make your skin soft and supple instead of dry, winkled, and flaky. Without fat you’d have sandpapery skin, brittle nails, and dull, lifeless hair.
- Adding fat to meals and snacks, especially those that contain fiber, helps you feel more satisfied and keeps you feeling full longer. Good fats help to slow your digestive rate, so that food leaves your stomach slowly and enters your blood stream at a steady pace. When there is some fat in your meals, your body produces more cholecystokinin, or CCK – the hormone that makes you feel satisfied after eating. A little dietary fat also reduces the amount of ghrelin in your body, which helps suppress your desire to eat.
One Big Fat Family: A lesson in the different forms of fat
All fats are classified as being saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated. Every fat or oil is a mixture of all three of these, but one type will predominate any given fat-based food. Here are some details on the different types of fats.
Saturated Fatty Acids: These fats are solid at room temperature. Butter, dairy products, and coconut oil are good examples. These are the ones that some dietetic associations have told us to limit in our diets. However, the 2004 American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition review concluded there to be no sufficient research to prove saturated fats affect coronary artery disease or other health issues to justify the recommendation to limit saturated fat intake. This does not mean you should eat buckets of butter, but proves that a moderate amount of saturated fat wont hurt you as long as it’s part of a diet that contains healthy amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. You can have your butter… just make sure to balance it out in your healthy diet!
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids: These fats are liquid or soft at room temperature and are found in foods like olives, nuts, avocados, seeds, and egg yolks. Monounsaturated fats are the types of fats our body prefers to use as energy. Researchers have shown that exercise increases the metabolism of monounsaturated fat more than saturated fat. This means that more fat can be burned for fuel during and after exercise when you eat foods rich in monounsaturated fat.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids: Found in many foods from both plant and animal sources, these fatty acids cant be made by your body so you have to obtain them through your diet. Food-dependent types of polyunsaturates are called essential. There are two categories of essential polyunsaturated fats: omega-3s and omega-6s. Omega-3 fats are pivotal in maintaining good health. Increased quantities of omega-3 fatty acids have been associated in clinical trials with lower rates of cancer, depression, mental illness, adverse pregnancy outcomes, infectious disease, osteoporosis, lung disease, menstrual pain, cognitive decline, eye damage, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and cystic fibrosis. They can also help control body fat and increase fat burning. You can get omega-3 fats from specially raised eggs, walnuts, flax, canola oil, salmon, trout, and sardines. Omega-6s are healthy when consumed in equal ratios with omega-3s. Too much Omega-6 in the diet can cause increased inflammation and is a risk factor for many diseases. These fats are found in the highest quantity in vegetable oils like corn oil, soybean oil, and safflower oil. Corn and soybean oil are added to many food products (salad dressings, corn chips, baked goods, and even fruit snacks). Many of us eat those products often, causing our ratio of omega-3s to omega-6 to weigh heavily toward the omega 6s. To balance out the two types of polyunsaturated fats, watch out for these added oils and eat lots of fish, ground flaxseed, and walnuts. Try to use canola, olive, or flaxseed oil for salad dressings and when cooking.
The Perfect Fat Ratios
Experts recommend that you take in equal amounts of fat calories from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, with slightly fewer calories from saturated fat. Then, among the polyunsaturates, to eat a balance of omega-6s and omega-3s. In order for you to get this ideal balance, try to incorporate the following oil-based fats into your diet equally throughout the week. These will complement the other fats you take in naturally from foods, so that your ratio of saturates to polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats is perfect.
- Canola oil and olive oil. Rich sources of monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Fish oil capsules. A great source of the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids EPA and DHA.
- Flaxseed Oil. Provides the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid ALA
- Butter. Rich in saturated fatty acids – but be sure to use small amounts!
- Natural nut butters (no sweeteners added). Great source of monounsaturated fatty acids.
The following are fats that every person should try to avoid completely in their diet. These foods can greatly exacerbate risk for disease and damage your health drastically:
- Bacon, chicken wings, T-bone steak, poultry skin
- Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
- Interesterified oils
- Soybean oil
- Vegetable oil and shortening
CHALLENGE: Make a Healthy Fat Friend
What types of fats do you get in your daily diet? Using the information above – how could you mix it up to get a better balance of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats? What are your favorite healthy fat foods? This week I challenge you to watch your dietary fat ratios and find a balance thats right for you. Remember, the right fats in reasonable quantities will not instantly put fat on your frame.By following a healthy diet and including good fats in most meals, you will get the health and weight loss benefits without an ounce of guilt attached to it. The creamy texture of fats will even make your meals more delicious. So go ahead, indulge a bit! Make fat your diet friend and benefit!