Dietary fat, that is! Often times we steer clear of this macronutrient due to believing the following: foods with higher calorie contents are bad, it’s name is a direct correlation with it’s action, and believing that all things made low fat are better (much thanks to the fat free craze during the late 80s and 90s!).
Let’s put those myths to bed: dietary fats are an essential part of our health, which is why they are one of our three macronutrients. Let’s chew the fat together (RD humor!) to understand different types of fat and why it’s so important to our health.
Types of dietary fat:
- Trans fat – these are NOT naturally occurring fats. They are man made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation. It helps give foods a longer shelf life and is very bad for our health.
- Saturated fat – comes from animal products. While there is not less fear around consuming saturated fat, the American Heart Association still encourages that no more than 7% of our calories come from this type of fat.
- Cholesterol – also comes from animal products. Due to recent research, there is no longer a recommendation for dietary cholesterol due to the lack of evidence between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol.
- Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated – consist of your plant based fats and are unsaturated (nuts, oils, fish, seeds, avocados, etc). These are much heart healthier and should comprise most of our dietary fat intake.
What does fat do for our health?
- It’s an essential nutrient in the body that provides us with energy, aids in absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and help with the production of hormones.
- It keeps our hair and skin healthy.
- Certain fats, known as Omega 3s and Omega 6s (linoleic and linolenic, respectively) are deemed essential fatty acids, due to the inability of our body to make them. Therefore, it’s important we get them through food to help with brain development, controlling inflammation, and blood clotting.
- Helps with satiety and overeating.
- Provides building blocks of all cells in the body and helps make up the bulk of cellular membranes.