Is it true that eating fat makes you fat? If this is what you think, you are wrong. But it is not your fault, this is what we have been led to believe.
Actually, unsaturated fats, like the ones found in plant-based oils, nuts and fatty fish, are good for you because they help protect from heart disease, help maintain a healthy weight and even have some superficial benefits for skin and hair.
But in recent years there has been a lot of confusion about the role that dietary fat plays in our lives.
Back around the 1980’s, nutrition experts advised that dietary fat was to be cut back drastically to avoid heart disease and weight gain.
These experts wanted to replace dietary fats from olive oil, butter, and nuts with healthy carbohydrates, like whole grains, vegetables and fruits. They meant well, but now we know that the research was misleading when it showed a correlation between diets high in fat and those with high cholesterol levels.
However, people did not really rush to replace big juicy steaks with more vegetables. So, food companies began creating “low-fat” products that were high in sugar, low in nutrition snacks and food.
Today, more than 30 years later, we are heavier and heart disease has risen. Now researchers suspect that when we replaced the fat in our diets with sugar and refined starch, it led to obesity and metabolic diseases like Type 2 diabetes.
Here’s what we know now: Dietary fat is not evil, it is simply a highly-concentrated source of calories that helps the body absorb essential vitamins, such as A, D, E and K. Fat helps keep your hair strong and glossy, the skin clear and youthful-looking.
Are you sitting down for this one? Contrary to what we’ve been told and thought in the past, moderate dietary fat amounts can possibly improve cardiovascular health. The same applies for those of us trying to lose weight, foods with these dietary fats may help keep satisfied longer, which means eating less food to feel full.
Polyunsaturated fats, which are found in fatty fish like salmon and trout, as well as in sunflower oil, walnuts and sunflower seeds, help reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, which can help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Polyunsaturated fats are also referred to as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, these are essential fatty acids that the body needs to function. Monounsaturated fat, is found in olive oil, avocados, peanut butter, nuts and seeds have similar effects on the body as the polyunsaturated fats.
A good serving size of healthy oils is about 27 grams or five teaspoons per day for someone consuming 2,000 calories, per day.
But, there are two kinds of fat we should keep at bay. These are saturated fat, which is mostly found in meat and dairy products. Saturated fat should make up no more than 10% of a person’s diet, this is mainly in part to its relationship with cardiovascular disease risks. According to researchers, replacing 1% of calories from saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 2% to 3%.
The second kind of fat to watch out for is trans-fat, this is mostly found in pre-packaged, frozen and canned baked goods.
Here are a few examples of good fats:
Half of an avocado contains about 15 grams of fat, and almost 10 grams of those are monounsaturated and 2 grams of polyunsaturated.
Almonds are a healthy fat-filled snack, they are the lowest in calories. One ounce (about 23 whole almonds) contain over 14 grams of fat, 9 grams of monounsaturated and about 3.5 polyunsaturated.
Salmon contains nearly 9 grams of fat, including nearly 4 grams of monounsaturated and about 2.5 of polyunsaturated.
Olives are a great source of dietary fat, by mixing 10 large olives into your next salad will add about 5 grams of fat, 3.5 of are monounsaturated and .4 of which are polyunsaturated. If you are not a fan of olives, no worries. Olive oil is an even more concentrated source of healthy fats- just as long as you don’t overdo it. A single tablespoon contains over 13 grams of fat, nearly 10 of which are monounsaturated and about 1.5 which is polyunsaturated.
Flaxseed contains just over 4 grams of fat, 1 gram is monounsaturated and 3 grams is polyunsaturated. Toss in a tablespoon of flaxseed into your salad, soups, smoothies, and yogurts.
A tablespoon of sesame seeds contains about 1.5 grams of monounsaturated fat and 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat. One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 2 grams of monounsaturated fat and 2,5 grams of polyunsaturated fat.
Eggs are an excellent source of dietary fat. One large egg has almost 5 grams of fat, 2 grams are monounsaturated fat and 1 is polyunsaturated fat.
So there you have it! Whether you are attempting to drop some weight or you are trying to maintain your weight, do not be afraid of fat. Use plant-based oils to make food taste more delicious, eat a handful of nuts as a healthy snack, and load up on rich, fatty foods like avocado and fish to obtain the nutrition your body needs.