Facts about dietary fats: understanding the benefits of fat
Low-fat, nonfat, or high-fat food; what’s best? When it comes to fat and your diet, it’s sometimes confusing to know what to eat. In the past, dietary fats got a bad rap if you were trying to eat healthy and get fit. But the bottom line is fat is an essential nutrient that you need in your diet. The key is to eat the right types of dietary fats in appropriate amounts.
Misconceptions about dietary fats
You have probably heard about the consequences of including fat in your diet. Everything from weight gain to cardiovascular disease is blamed on eating too much fat. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
If you want the lowdown on fat, it’s helpful to separate the misconceptions from the facts. Consider some of the following fat fallacies:
Myth: fat is bad for you
Fact: some dietary fat is essential in a healthy diet. If you don’t get enough fat in your diet, you may develop a variety of problems from fatigue to dry skin.
Myth: fat makes you gain weight
Fact: fat is not what makes you put on weight. Instead, weight gain is related to the number of calories you eat. It’s pretty simple. If you eat more calories than you burn, eventually you’ll gain weight. Whether your excess calories come from chips, steak or pasta, it can all lead to weight gain.
Misconception: fat is all the same
Fact: this is one of the big ones when it comes to misconceptions about fats. While it’s true that trans fats are unhealthy, other fats such as monounsaturated fats promote good health.
Benefits of healthy dietary fats
It’s clear that all dietary fat should not be demonized. Fat plays a major role in your diet. For example, fat helps you feel full. It also is a source of energy and helps with vitamin absorption. Fat is also needed to regulate your body temperature and support cell growth.
One reason why there are misconceptions about dietary fat is that it is often thought of as one substance. But as mentioned above, there are different types of fats. The types of fat you want to eat include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and in particular, omega 3 fatty acids.
According to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fat can raise good cholesterol, which may decrease your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Polyunsaturated fats have been shown to reduce triglycerides in the blood and slow the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
How to choose healthy dietary fats
According to the recommendations from the Unites States Department of Agriculture, up to 35 percent of your calories can come from fats. But including fat in your diet doesn’t mean you’re given the green light to scarf down a half a gallon of ice cream or a bag of chips. In fact, you want to limit fats which are considered bad for you, such as saturated fats and trans fats. Fried foods like French fries, potato chips, and doughnuts are a few common sources of these bad fats.
Instead, choose foods that contain healthy fats; for example, nuts, avocados, and olives are good sources of monounsaturated fats. And foods containing polyunsaturated fats include flaxseed, tuna, salmon, and kale.
Would you benefit from expert help dialing in your diet to include the correct amounts of macronutrients — carbohydrates, protein, and healthy dietary fats? The personal trainers at Elite Triangle Fitness can work with you to develop a nutrition program to get you on track to your health and fitness goals. Call us for a free consultation today!