Fat, or “dietary fat,” is a nutrient that is a major source of energy for the body. It also helps you absorb certain important vitamins. As a food ingredient, fat provides taste, consistency, and helps you feel full.
What You Should Know:
Eating too much fat can lead to a wide range of health challenges. The total amount and type of fat can contribute to and/or increase the risk of:
increased risk of many cancers (including colon-rectum cancer)
high blood pressure
type 2 diabetes
It is important to know that there are different types of dietary fat. Some have health benefits when eaten in small quantities, but others do not.
Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) are healthful if eaten in moderation.
Polyunsaturated fats help with muscle movement and blood clotting. Since your body doesn’t make this type of fat, you have to get it through your diet.
Polyunsaturated fats can be divided into two types: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for heart health and can be found in:
sardines, tuna, salmon, and mackerel
Consuming too many foods rich in omega-6 fats may increase inflammation in your body and raise your risk for certain health conditions, including obesity.
Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in:
Research shows that monounsaturated fats may help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and overall mortality.
Foods that are highest in monounsaturated fats include:
Saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels in the blood – which in turn can contribute to heart disease; but the debate on whether or not it's bad for heart health has been ongoing. It is clear that saturated fats raise blood lipids, including (LDL) cholesterol levels and certain other heart disease risk factors, such as inflammation, but it’s unclear whether saturated fats increase the risk for heart disease.
Common sources of this fat include
palm kernel oils
To help limit the amount of saturated fats consumed, select meat and poultry that are lean and dairy products that are low in fat. In addition, dry beans, which can be used as a meat substitute, are a good source of protein and are non-fat.
Trans Fat is one of the newest additions to the Nutrition Facts Label, so you may be hearing more about it. Most trans fat is made when manufacturers “hydrogenized” liquid oils, turning them into solid fats, like shortening or some margarines. Trans fat is commonly found in crackers, cookies, snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in these solid oils. Trans fat, like saturated fat and cholesterol, raises your LDL (bad) cholesterol and can increase your risk of coronary heart disease.
Let's Put it Together
Try to get more of your fats from whole foods like seeds, nuts, and avocados.
Use oils sparingly when cooking
When choosing meats try to go lean
Limit the amount of packaged foods like cookies, chips, crackers, and condiments in your diet.
I understand that this can be really hard to do, but I tell people to go by the 80/20 rule. It's okay to enjoy the things you like, but you want to add more nutrient dense food, like fruits & veggies, into your diet 80% of the time.