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Why You Need Fat To Stay Healthy

Updated on July 12, 2016

Fat is not something to avoid. It’s essential for normal growth and development, energy production, brain health, and metabolic support. Dietary fat also protects our organs, maintains cell membranes, and helps the body absorb and process nutrients. Many dieticians recommend that about a third of any weight-loss plan’s calories come from dietary fat. Certain types of diets may require almost 70 to 80 percent fat (ie Ketogenic Diet) Fats help with appetite control, fuel the brain, and reduce inflammation. Here’s how to make sure you’re getting enough of the right kind and also why the seemingly unhealthy saturated fat might be slightly more healthier than we think.

Polyunsaturated & Unsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats: you cannot get enough of these. You can find polyunsaturated fats in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils such as corn and safflower oil, and fatty fish. This category encompasses omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are known as essential fatty acids because our bodies don't make them

Unsaturated fats are mostly good guys. An exception, or course, is trans-fats which are technically unsaturated fats.. These healthy fats are liquid at room temperature. To increase your unsaturated fat, replace solids, like butter, with olive and vegetable oils, and swap red meat for seafood or unsalted nuts. (Seafood and nuts also contain saturated fat, but usually less than red meat.)

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats can be kinda tricky. Typically, these are the fats we associate as "bad fats".
These are the ones cardiologists, dietitians, and nutritionists will tell you to monitor closely. Only 16 grams (or 140 calories) per day should be saturated fats according to the American Heart Association. But there is new emerging research in favor of saturated fats. There is a meta-analysis of 21 studies that suggest that there is not enough evidence that increased saturated fat intake increases the risk of heart disease. This thought process is starting to stick and make it's way into mainstream media as more studies are being done on stress and inflammation. These studies are indicating that it is not simply saturated fat alone that is the problem,, but sugar (or more commonly the combination of saturated fat and added sugar) that is creating stress, inflammation, and ultimately is a key indicator of heart disease. When you stop to really think about it, this makes sense. Man lived on animals, fruits, and vegetables in the beginning. This led to the creation of the modern day Paleo Diet, which prohibits added, or "unnatural" sugar. When you put it all together, we could make a strong case for saturated fats to be more acceptable.

Its easier than you think to incorporate healthy fats into your diet. Many of the unsaturated fats we need are in nuts, seeds, healthy oils, and avocados. These foods make great snacks, take little prepping, and travel easily. Super foods like chia, flax, and coconut are easy to use in shakes and smoothies and are affordable at your local grocery store. The benefits are overwhelming. From brain health, to joint health, to weight management, fats are a necessary macronutrient that we need to consume regularly.


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