Fat Isn't Making You Fat
Yes, you heard us! Eating healthy fats aren't going to make you fat. So what's the deal? There is a lot of miscommunication out there regarding fat. Let me give you some perspective!
For many years FAT was a terrible word and was practically shunned from the american diet. There was suddenly a switch in the 80's-90's to low-fat foods. The idea was if you consumed fat you would get fat. REALLY PEOPLE? Did you ever notice that the transition to low-fat foods didn't make us any healthier? Normally in a low-fat product they are replacing the fat with other ingredients for taste like adding more sugar. As we know, the replacement ingredients to add taste were almost WORSE than the fat itself. Consuming a low-fat products didn't make america skinny...some would argue it did just the opposite.
The human body needs fat because it's one of the major sources of energy. Fats help you absorb other key nutrients as well. Fat is needed to build cell membrane, for muscle movement, and helps with inflammation. Great, so I can eat that peanut butter and that pint of Ben & Jerry's!! WRONG!!!!!
There are different types of fats and some are healthier than others. So what type of fats should we be eating? Without going into all t
he scientific detail with different types of fats there are some that are healthier than others. Although there are different types of fats they all have a similar chemical make up.
Let's start with the fun ones...the BAD FATS.
Trans Fat: This is a byproduct of a process called hydrogenation with is a process that is used to turn healthy oils into a solid. When relatively healthy oils are heated and cooled they turn into a sold or a not-so-healthy fat. These are typically labeled as "partially hydrogenated oil" Think margarine, shortenings, and even fast-food french fries. In the early 20th century trans fat were mainly solids until we found a way to partially hydrogenate them and this type of fat popped up in A LOT OF FOOD! Trans fat increase cholesterol levels and is also linked to heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. even small amounts of trans fat are very harmful for health. "For ever 2% of calories from trans fat consumed daily, the risk of heart disease rises by 23%" (Harvard Health, 2015).
Saturated Fats: These fats are solid at room temperature and sources of saturated fat include red meat, whole milk, and other whole milk-dairy products, cheese, and coconut oils. Saturated fats can increase cholesterol levels, can block arteries, but it's not nearly has terrible as trans fats. Nutritionists recommend limiting saturated fats to under 10% of calories a day. Saturated Fats can be a part of a healthy diet but should be consumed in moderation. Below are some examples of saturated fats that can be incorporated to your meal plan as long as you track your portions.
Lean Beef and Pork
Full Fat Milk
Full Fat Yogurt
So what are the really GOOD FATS?
Monounsaturated Fats: This type of fat is liquid at room temperature and is not a sold. There is no recommended daily intake of monounsaturated fats but if you can replace your trans fat for monounsaturated fats that would be ideal. Good sources of this type of fat would be olive oil, peanut oil, avocados, nuts, and sunflower oils. The Mediterranean region of the world has a very low rate of heart disease despite their high fat diet. Their main fat in their diet comes from olive oil. Fats not from animals. The recent studies on how this region of the world eats has sparked an interest in people around the world. Thus the "Mediterranean diet" was marketed as a style of eating which was just a high fat diet consisting of monounsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated Fats: Usually these fats are in liquid form and used to cook with. These are essential fats that your body requires for normal functioning but your body can't make them. You must get these types of fats from food. Polyunsaturated fats build cell membrane to cover the nerves in your body, they are needed to clot blood, and for muscle movement, and inflammation. There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids. Research shows that eating polyunsaturated fats in place of saturated fats or refined carbohydrates reduce cholesterol levels and can actually improve your cholesterol profile.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, flax seeds, walnuts, canola oil, and unhydrogenated soybean oil. These types of fats prevent and treat heart disease and stroke, reduces blood pressure, and lowers triglycerides. It is also studied that Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the need for corticosteroid medications for people with rheumatoid arthritis. The list of benefits of these fats goes on!
Omega-6 Fatty Acids have also been linked to helping to reduce heart disease. Foods such as vegetable oils, walnuts oils, and corn oils all contain this type of fat.
Most Popular high-fat foods that are really nutritious for you
Nuts and seed butters
Fatty Fish (Salmon and Tuna)
Coconuts and Coconut Oil