The Skinny on Fat in Your Diet

Despite Bad Reputation, Fat Plays a Valuable Role in One's Diet

fat in your diet

Fat tends to have a bad reputation. For years, we have heard that the key to weight loss is eating a low-fat diet, but there’s no need to fear fat!

Today, we know fat isn’t all bad. In fact, we need it! Fat in your diet is essential for your body to function properly.

It is true that some fats can cause weight gain and increase your risk for certain diseases, such as heart disease. On the other hand, some fats are vital to our overall health. These fats provide essential fatty acids, aid in vitamin absorption, provide energy, and even improve our mood.

So, what types of fats are in our food?

Saturated Fat:

These fats are known by some as the “bad fats,” which is not necessarily true. Saturated fats, in healthy amounts, have some benefits in our bodies.

Studies have found that it can raise our levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, improve our immune health, and is necessary for proper brain function. However, eating too much saturated fat does increase the risk for high LDL (bad) cholesterol and heart disease. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that less than 10% of your calories each day should come from saturated fats. If you eat 2,000 calories a day, that is 200 calories. Examples of foods high in saturated fat include bacon, butter, heavy cream and high-fat beef.

Trans Fat:

These truly are the “bad” fats. According to research, consuming even small amounts of this type of fat leads to increased risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. It is recommended to avoid trans fat completely. Several foods that often contain trans-fat are doughnuts, store-bought baked goods, Slim Jims and flavored microwave popcorn.

Unsaturated Fat:

These are known as the “good” fats. They have many nutritional benefits, like reducing your risk for heart and brain diseases, for example. Foods such as avocados, nuts, olive oil and fish are high in unsaturated fat and can be used to replace some of the foods high in saturated fat in your diet.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that 20-35% of your calories are from fat each day. If you eat 2,000 calories, that is 400 to 700 calories.

Remember, we do need some fat in our diets, it’s just a matter of finding the right balance.

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