For many people, the ideal diet is all about cutting fat. It’s no wonder that we see hundreds of products at the grocery store that say low fat, or 50% less fat, or no fat at all. But fat is not bad for you. Shocking? It certainly sounds so. Many people are not aware of this, but it is possible to not have enough fat in your diet – and the consequences can be quite dreadful. Consuming a good amount of fats is not only essential for overall good health and well-being; it can also aid you in accomplishing your personal lifestyle goals.
What Are Good Fats?
Fat, contrary to popular belief is a nutrient, and we all know that nutrients are what makes all living things thrive. Like other nutrients, fat is necessary for our bodies to function normally and help all living things to lead healthy lives.
The types of fats that you want to consume are monounsaturated fats. Most commonly, these fats are known as:
- Omega 3
- Omega 6
- Omega 9
- Oleic Acid
- Linoleic acid
Healthy Fat Foods
It is not a hard or daunting task to include more healthy fat foods in your diet. Most likely, if you have a relatively healthy diet, you are already consuming healthy fats. Some basic healthy fat foods you can consume include:
- Organ Meats
- Plant-based oils (i.e. coconut oil and flaxseed oil)
What Are Bad Fats?
The types of fats that you do not want to consume are trans-fats and saturated fats. What makes trans-fats and saturated fats extremely bad, are that food manufacturers put certain foods under a hydrogenation process, destroying the fat nutritional levels in order to extend the shelf life of their product.
Bad Fat Foods
As easy as it is to include good fats in your diet, it is just as easy to consume bad fats. Bad fats are most often found in processed, packaged foods like:
- Powder mixes
- Prepackaged noodles
- French fries
5 Reasons to Eat Good Fats
Now you know that difference between healthy fats and unhealthy fats – but making sure that you are getting enough good fats is crucial to optimal health for the following reasons:
Your body’s organs rely on an adequate supply of fat in order to operate at optimal levels. Healthy fats are particularly important to the gallbladder, a small organ that releases bile into the stomach. When fats are consumed, bile helps digest food. As a direct result of not consuming enough healthy fats, you impact the gallbladder’s functions which are directly linked to good digestion. Good health starts with good nutrition and a healthy gut. If food in the stomach is not being digested properly, then you risk encountering a variety of health problems.
No matter what you eat, or what kinds of dietary supplements you use, your body will be malnourished if you do not consume enough healthy enough fats. This is because fats help transport essential vitamins and minerals to all of the cells in your body. It is shocking how many people supplement with multivitamins or multi-minerals, but fail to ensure that they are consuming adequate amounts of good fats. Multivitamins and multi-minerals, among other dietary supplements, go to waste in your body if you do not consume enough healthy fats.
Just as it is a common misconception that all fats are bad to consume, many people also believe that it is unsafe to consume high cholesterol foods. This is only half true.
There are two types of cholesterol:
- HDL (good cholesterol)
- LDL (bad cholesterol)
Cholesterol is very important for good heart health. LDL delivers cholesterol to your body’s cells and organs, to help build and maintain cells. However, when there is too much LDL in your blood, the LDL builds up in your blood vessels. This is what causes your blood vessels to narrow, which can lead to unfortunate conditions like heart attack. HDL seeks out the excess bad cholesterol in your blood, and takes it to the liver to be broken down. In other words, the more HDL you have the less LDL you will have.
Bad cholesterol can be found in bad fat foods, whereas good cholesterol can be found in healthy fat foods. So let’s do the math: which one would you want in your body?
When you eat food that is rich in carbohydrates, you need to accompany it with a source of good fat. Fats will slow your blood’s absorption of glucose, preventing sugar spikes and crashes later from carbohydrates. The slower absorption of glucose will help you feel fuller for longer – a benefit for those who are trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight level. Who knew that fat could actually help you lose weight?
Hormonal Balancing Act
Not having enough fat in your diet can wreak havoc on your hormones. Interestingly, fats are the building blocks of vital sexual hormones in the body. Without enough fat or hormones, your body could see some serious issues pop up. In women, low estrogen can cause problems with their reproductive processes. In men, it can eventually cause erectile dysfunction, due to a lack of progesterone. Getting proper amounts of healthy fats is the best way to maintain healthy hormone levels.
All in all, fats can be good and bad. Hopefully you now understand the differences between good and bad fats and the benefits and drawbacks that they bring to your body. So instead of reaching for the low-fat or zeo-fat product at the grocery store, go ahead, read the label and make a health informed decision about your nutrition.