In your quest to eat healthier, at some point you’ve probably been told to buy low-fat foods, consume fewer fatty foods, and/or eat a completely non-fat diet. Society has ingrained a negative connotation surrounding dietary fat; however, it should be an essential part of healthy eating. Dietary fats are found in food and aid in many different ways by providing reserve energy, preventing essential fatty acid deficiencies, giving us longer satiety, and is essential for the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins of A, E, D, K, among other important benefits.
There are four types of fat we consume: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, and trans fat. Some are healthier than others. The key is to separate good fats from bad. The bad fats, saturated and trans, come from animal sources and tend to be more solid at room temperature. The healthier fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, come from food and oils and tend to be more liquid at room temperature.
How does fat affect cholesterol levels? Bad fats (saturated and trans), tend to raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good cholesterol (HDL); good fats (monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated) lower LDL and raise HDL.
Regardless of the type, fat is very calorie dense, giving us more than twice as much potential energy, 9 kcals/g (calories) compared to 4.3 kcal/g in protein and 4.1 kcal/g in carbohydrates. Thus, consuming too much of any good and/or bad fat, can lead to taking in too many calories, which can result in weight gain, potentially leading to other health related issues.
Alternatively, there are numerous consequences with consuming too little fat in our diet, which includes: hair loss, low body weight, cold intolerance, bruising, poor growth, lower resistance to infection, poor wound healing, and loss of menstruation.
Dietary fat should, on average, make up 20%-30% of our total calories, with the rest coming from the other macronutrients: protein and carbohydrates. A non-fat diet should never be an option. Learn about great sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as healthier alternatives to saturated and trans fats by contacting Dan at (978) 807-8579.
Dan Kinsella is an Exercise Physiologist, with a degree in Sports Medicine. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), as well as a Certified Nutrition Specialist. To learn more about this article, or his personal training services, visit http://www.seachangefitness.net or call (978) 807-8579 to schedule your FREE consultation!