There’s been a myth around for years tell you eating fat will make you fat. However, people are finally beginning to realize fat isn’t really the thing to blame. Growing up in the “no-fat/low-fat” craze, I was terrified to eat fat, thinking it would make me fat, but it’s simply not true.
In fact, your body needs “healthy fats” to support your health in many different ways. If you don’t consume enough healthy fats, your skin may become dry, your hair may become brittle and your brain may not function at top speed.
Most people usually eat enough fat, but most of it is probably from unhealthy sources. This is definitely the case when you eat too many processed foods. If you eat out for most of your meals (or eat mainly boxed or bagged meals), you consume the kind of fat that clogs your arteries and causes all kinds of nasty inflammation in your body.
Let’s go ahead and talk about why you need healthy fats, what fats you should eat, and which ones to avoid in your daily diet.
Why You Need Healthy Fats
Plain and simple, healthy fats are crucial for your body to function. They give you energy and help your cells grow. Fats also play an important role in the production of hormones. You can also thank fats for protecting your organs and helping your body regulate it’s temperature too.
Another reason you need to eat healthy fats is to help your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, & K. Healthy fats even contain anti-inflammatory properties, which can help protect against chronic disease and help improve your overall health.
I’m sure you’re already aware, but in case you aren’t, healthy fats are great for the heart and brain too!!! So, please don’t fall into the trap of being scared of eating fat.
SIDE NOTE: Did you know your brain is about 60% fat?
Fats To Avoid
First, let’s dive into the fats you really should avoid. These are fats that cause inflammation throughout your entire body and can cause a wide variety of health problems too. The fats to avoid are trans fats and partially hydrogenated fats (which contain trans fatty acids). I’m also going to add hydrogenated and saturated fats to the list.
1. Trans Fats
The main kind of unhealthy fat responsible for health woes is trans fat. You’ve may have seen inforamtion pop up about trans fats over the last few years. This information has taught us why we should avoid trans fats in our diet.
Manufacturers are now required to eliminate trans fats from their products, but they can still use other alternatives that aren’t necessarily healthy. Plus, a product (like shortening) can say “0 Trans Fats” but still contain trans fat because it’s below .5g/serving. This is achieved by using a mixture of partially hydrogenated and fully hydrogenated oils. See…tricks that consumers aren’t aware of!
This means you still need to check your labels! You’ll want to take a look at the ingredients to see if “partially hydrogenated oil” (the process of removing a hydrogen turns vegetable oil into a semi-solid or solid fat) is listed. If so, put it back on the shelf!
SIDE NOTE: With the new nutrition labels you can find “Trans Fats” listed under “fat” on a label. (Read more about food nutrition labels HERE)
The harm with trans fats is they are a double whammy for your cholesterol. They raise the LDL (“bad”) and lower the HDL (“good”). Trans fats also increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. One study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported for each 2% increase in calories you consume from trans fats, you nearly double the risk of coronary heart disease!
You may be wondering what food contain trans fats, so I’ll give you some popular sources.
Common foods containing trans fats:
- Snack foods
- Fast food
- Pretty much any processed food
2. Saturated Fats
Moving on, I want to touch on saturated fat. Saturated fat is anther fat a lot of experts still consider to be unhealthy. There has been a “revival” in the use of saturated fat in the past few years, but it’s still recommended you consume this fat in moderation. Saturated fats are still shown to increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and other conditions like arthritis.
Sources of saturated fats:
- Dairy products
- Coconut oil
- Red meat
- Manufactured/packaged foods
Fats to Include
You now know what fats to avoid, so let’s cover fats you should include in your diet on a daily basis.
1. Monosaturated Fat
First up is monounsaturated fat.
These fats include…
- Olive oil
- Peanut butter
- Many nuts and seeds
Monounsaturated fats can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing your bad cholesterol. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells. They may also aid with weight loss and help reduce inflammation.
2. Polyunsaturated Fat
The next healthy fat you need to include in your diet is polyunsaturated fat. You’ve probably heard about these fats, but may be more familiar with the terms Omega 3 & Omega 6.
These fats can be found in…
- Brazil nuts
- Sesame and chia seeds
- Wild caught salmon, tuna and halibut
If you consume more Omega 3’s & 6’s you will be able to lower your triglycerides, reduce your blood pressure, and help delay the build up of plaque in your arteries. These fats can also help reduce inflammation in your body as well as help with weight loss. So, consider consuming these daily & try to include a fish source 2-3 times per week.
Think about putting fats into two categories: Healthy and Unhealthy Fats.
Avoid unhealthy fats, especially trans fats, as much as possible because they can lead to health problems, including heart disease and stroke. The main sources of trans fats are foods that come in a box/bag, can sit on the shelf for years without spoiling or you get when you eat out (especially fried foods).
Your daily source of fat needs to come from healthy fat sources, like mono & polyunsaturated (omega 3 & 6). Look for these fats in nuts, seeds, seafood, avocado, and olive oil. Consuming these fats help protect against heart disease, improve your blood pressure, reduce inflammation & can even help with weight loss.
Do you include healthy fats in your daily diet or do you still think eating fat will make you fat?
If “healthy information” is overwhelming or confuses you, schedule a Free Weight Loss Strategy Session HERE and we can chat more about getting you on course with your weight loss goals.