Let’s start with the basic truth about fat: it is absolutely essential to our bodies. It cushions our organs, helps assimilate certain vitamins, provides fuel for energy and most importantly, is essential to our brains – they are 60% fat! Plus, eating a little fat at every meal slows the digesting process down and keeps us feeling fuller, longer.
Now that we’ve established that fat is a critical to the well-being your body, let’s see how it fits into your diet. It’s important to know that there are three types of fat in your food – saturated, unsaturated and trans fat – and only one of those types will help you lose weight by keeping you feeling full and maintaining your health. The key to fat intake and weight loss is to make sure you don’t eat more than 30% of your daily calorie allowance in fat.
The Two Kinds of Bad Fats
Saturated fat is usually found in red meat, full fat dairy products such as butter, milk and cheese as well as in palm and palm kernel oils. So what makes it bad? It has been linked to inflammation in our bodies, which means it creates a continuously unhealthy environment that can lead to heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses. Limiting consumption red meat to once a week and using low-fat or fat free dairy products helps to control your weight and the inflammation.
Trans fats are man-made fats. Manufacturers found that this fat greatly extended the shelf life of baked goods like bread, cookies, and crackers and began incorporating it into the majority of foods we see today. The drawback? Our bodies can’t handle it. Because it is a man-made chemical, the human body doesn’t have the ability to break it down properly so it tries to store it, resulting in weight gain, inflammation and eventually, disease. Trans fats are also known to contribute to clogging up arteries. Extra tip: trans fats can also be listed as ‘partially hydrogenated fat’ on food labels, so if you see that phrase, don’t eat it.
The Good Fat
So what fats are good for you and your waistline? Unsaturated fat. Your body recognizes this type of fat as easily absorbable and containing useful nutrients. Examples of this type of fat are found in foods like olive oil, almonds, avocados, peanuts, walnuts, seeds, spinach, kale, and flax oil. Cold water fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herring also contain unsaturated fat. Eating these types of food will keep you feeling full and keep your body healthy.