As someone who used to not understand the importance of fat, I now make sure to get enough healthy fats into my diet. When I started my fitness journey (and even before), I was afraid that eating too much fat would make me fat. While this can be true, it’s important to realize the difference between healthy fat and unhealthy fat and why healthy fat is important in your diet. I avoided foods such as avocados, nuts and eggs because I heard they were high in fat and calories. While these foods are high in fat and can be high in calories, they are an essential part of a healthy diet. Below I’ll explain the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats and why you need healthy fats in your life. Since I am not a nutrition expert or a registered dietitian, I’ve linked the website below where I found this information.
Unhealthy Fats – There are two types of unhealthy fats: saturated fat and trans fat. Both of these fats can raise LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) and trans fat can suppress HDL (“good” cholesterol) making it worse than saturated fat.
- Saturated fat “is primarily animal-based, and is found in high-fat meats and dairy products. Some typical sources of saturated fats include:
- fatty cuts of beef, pork, and lamb
- dark chicken meat and poultry skin
- high fat dairy foods (whole milk, butter, cheese, sour cream, ice cream)
- tropical oils (coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa butter)
- Trans fat – Trans fat is “short for ‘trans fatty acids’. Trans fat appears in foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These are the worst fats for you. You might find trans fat in:
- fried foods (French fries, doughnuts, deep-fried fast foods)
- margarine (stick and tub)
- vegetable shortening
- baked goods (cookies, cakes, pastries)
- processed snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn)”*
Healthy Fats – There are 2 types of healthy fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Although these fats are good for your health, they should be eaten in moderation as they are high in calories.
- Monounsaturated fat – There are many sources of monounsaturated fat that you can incorporate into your diet. “Research has consistently shown that eating foods that contain monounsaturated fat can improve your blood cholesterol level and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. These foods include:
- nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans)
- vegetable oils (olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil)
- peanut butter and almond butter
- Polyunsaturated fat – “Plant-based foods and oils are the primary source of this fat. Like monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat can decrease your risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels.
A certain type of this fat, called omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to be particularly beneficial for your heart. Omega-3s not only appear to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease, but also may help lower blood pressure levels and guard against irregular heartbeats. The following types of fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids:
You can also find omega-3s in flaxseed, walnuts, and canola oil, although these contain a less active form of the fat than fish do.
In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, you can find polyunsaturated fat in the following foods, which contain omega-6 fatty acids:
- roasted soy beans and soy nut butter
- seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds)
- vegetable oils (corn oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil)
- soft margarine (liquid or tub)”*
Why should you eat healthy fats?
Now obviously after reading about how good fat is for you, we all should try to incorporate more healthy fats into our diet, but that’s not the main reason for I’m going to try and convince you to eat healthy fats. The number one reason I suggest you eat healthy fats is because they keep you full and keep you satisfied. As someone who used to eat very little fat, I was hungry ALL the time. Even after eating a big meal, I always wanted more and never felt satisfied after eating. That’s when I would reach for a candy bar to satisfy my craving. It wasn’t until awhile into my fitness journey that I realized this was because I wasn’t eating enough fat. Now-a-days, I can always tell when I haven’t had enough fat and when I have. When you start eating healthy fat, you feel a lot more full and satisfied than when you don’t incorporate them into your diet. So make sure you’re getting enough fat into your diet which can range from 15-30% of your daily caloric intake and don’t be afraid of fat!
*Information from http://www.healthline.com/health/heart-disease/good-fats-vs-bad-fats.