Since Sugar got our attention last week, fat came knocking and we didn't want to leave it out! So here is the skinny on fat including why we need it, what types hurt us and a new way to relate to fat.
Why do we need fat?
Because it fulfills a variety of roles for the body. Fat is an energy source. It helps us metabolize (aka. properly use) key vitamins and minerals. Fat helps us regulate body temperature. It helps our blood clot properly and it even provides protection for vital organs.
Fat is also a major building block! Fat forms the wall of every cell in your body! You are made of cells. Without fat, how could your cells maintain the form they need to function?
Are you starting to see how fat is not only functional but also fundamental? We hope so!
What Types Of Fat Hurt Us?
Manufactured fat is the most harmful. In every day terms these are "trans" fats which we like to think of as "transformed" fats because that's exactly what they are. A trans fat is a fat molecule that has been transformed in a lab to change its state of matter.
This process is called hydrogenation and it changes a liquid fat like an oil into a solid fat like lard. A solid fat lasts longer, making processed foods last longer before they go bad. While they make the food expiration longer, they make our expiration shorter!
Per Harvard Medical School, "for every 2% of calories from trans fat consumed daily, the risk of heart disease rises by 23%". Trans fats have also been linked to increased insulin resistance which means a higher chance of having type 2 Diabetes as well as increased level of harmful, blockage causing LDL cholesterol.
Saturated fat, that's solid at room temperature, can hurt us as well. The good news is, studies show that when saturated fat is 10% or less of our fat intake, it's risk at causing harm reduces noticeably.
What do we do now?
The best thing to do is eat fats that come from whole foods, instead of fats manufactured in a lab. Specifically poly and mono-unsaturated fats (aka. liquid at room temp or close to it). Some saturated fat is ok and it's recommended to be no more than 10% of your calorie intake from fats that are solid at room temperature. For a 1500 calorie diet, 10% saturated fat = roughly 17grams.
Designed delicious as they are, healthy fats include those found in nature. This can include both plant and animal sources such as lean meats, low fat dairy, nuts, seeds, high fiber carbohydrates (5g or more per serving), eggs, and oils not produced in a lab such as olive, coconut, avocado and fish oils.
Now that you have the skinny on fat, keep an eye out for the 4-letter work "TRANS". Find a way to eat more whole foods with naturally occurring fat content and avoid foods where the fat is manufactured and added in.