Fats are kind of like that old saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Fats have been demonized the past couple decades, but fats’ contribution to the success of your diet are more valuable than you have been led to believe.
Good versus bad. Concentrate on adding in more good fats and phasing out the bad fats. The best way to distinguish between the two in processed food is the crazy long names in the ingredients. Anything hydrogenated, including partially hydrogenated, is a trans fat. These are incredibly bad for us. Even though a label may say “trans fat free,” read the ingredients anyway.
Then you’ve got saturated versus unsaturated. This part is slightly confusing and controversial. Animal fats are saturated fats and are blamed for most of heart disease. Unsaturated fats are plant-based fats like olive oil and are highly recommended for consumption.
Why should you care about fat? It contains essential fatty acids, omega 3 and 6, which are called “essential” because we cannot live without them and our bodies do not make them. Omega 6s are readily found and in most cases, do not need to be supplemented. Omega 3s, however, require more effort to consume and are usually added through supplements.
While fats don’t carry vitamins or mineral, the good ones are vital to our body’s absorption of several vitamins -meaning without fat, we can’t get them! For example, the body needs fat to absorb Vitamin D, which your body needs to absorb calcium from dairy. Translation: if you’re consuming dairy products for the calcium, your low-fat/no-fat versions are pretty much empty calories.
A few major organs depend on fat to function properly like your brain and heart. Omega-3’s improve memory, communication and alertness in the brain. The heart uses fat as a fuel to pump blood. So don’t be afraid of the big bad fat! It is here to help!
It can even help you stay on your diet! Fat satiates hunger, so you feel satisfied from your meals quicker AND you feel satisfied for a longer period of time. This means you consume fewer calories overall. So invest your calories wisely and include some fat!