Fats get a bad rap. As a society, we believe that eating fat makes us fat. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Fat provides our bodies with lots of nutritional value, and it’s actually essential to our health. Dietary fat comes down to eating the right types of fat in the right proportions.
What does fat do for our body?
Our body requires fats for everyday life. They are essential to give our body energy, and support cellular function. They also protect our organs and keep our body warm. Fats help our body to absorb some nutrients, such as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
What kind of fats are there
There are 4 main types of fats found in food. The 4 main types are Saturated Fats, Trans Fats, Monounsaturated Fats, and Polyunsaturated Fats.
Saturated fats and trans fats are considered the “bad” dietary fats. Trans fats is less common to find these days, however can still be found in processed goods like cookies or candy. Saturated fats are common and can be found in animal products such as meat or dairy. Saturated fats do not need to be totally avoided; however, they should be consumed in moderation as they can increase our risk of cardiovascular disease. Too much saturated fat increases our bad cholesterol levels (LDL and total cholesterol.) Both trans fat and saturated fat are solid at room temperature, such as butter.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the good types of dietary fat. We won’t go into detail of the difference between the two, however, know that they are different based on their chemical structure. Both are good fats to eat and should be focused on. From now on, we’ll refer to these fats as unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, such as oil. Eating more of unsaturated fats has a positive impact on our health. These dietary fats can increase our good cholesterol (HDL) and therefore be cardio-protective. Unsaturated fats are found in olive oil, avocado, and nuts and seeds.
How to healthfully incorporate fats
As we’ve mentioned, fats can and SHOULD be incorporated into a balanced diet! Outside of being cardio-protective, healthy fats can also reduce inflammation. As consumers, we should focus on eating more of unsaturated fat sources than eating saturated fat sources. Aim to eat at least one healthy fat source every day. We recommend eating two sources. Healthy fats have also been shown to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia as we age. Some ideas to incorporate healthy fats include:
- Trail mix as a snack
- Avocado with your eggs in the morning
- Cooking with olive oil
Where do omega 3’s fit in?
Omega 3-s are a type of healthy fat that is considered to be polyunsaturated. There are 3 types of fats within omega 3 called EPA, ALA, and DHA. We won’t go too much into these, know that they are a good thing! Omega-3’s has been shown to prevent heart disease, control lupus, decrease inflammation, and play a role in cancer prevention. Fish, like salmon, nuts and seeds, and flax seed are all good sources of omega-3. We recommend consuming at least 2 servings of omega-3’s each week.
So, fats can be part of a healthy diet
As you’ve read, yes, eating foods with fat is part of a healthy diet. Focus on consuming more of the unsaturated fats than the saturated ones. Pure Plates can help you to do this, as we make healthy eating super simple; including consumption of healthy fats! Some of our favorite healthy fat options on the menu are: