Remember the wretched fat-free products that were so hot in the mid-90s? Blech! Everyone was so darn busy fat shaming foods that no one took time to read food labels. Some fats are essential to the human body. And others – well, yeah – they totally deserve to be fat shamed.
A few things to understand about fats:
There are numerous types of fat. Your body makes its own fat from taking in excess calories. Some fats are found in foods from plants and animals and are known as dietary fat. Dietary fat is one of the three macronutrients, along with protein and carbohydrates, that provide energy for your body. Fat is essential to your health because it supports a number of your body's functions. Some vitamins, for instance, must have fat to dissolve and nourish your body.
So, some fats are totally awesome, but other fats? Not so much. Some dietary fat types (saturated and trans fat) can possibly cause cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Yuck, right?
The fats you should embrace (in moderation according to the Mayo Clinic) and incorporate into you diet are monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats:
- Monounsaturated fat is “found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.”
- Polyunsaturated fat is “found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. PUFAs may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. One type of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, may be especially beneficial to your heart. Omega-3s, found in some types of fatty fish, appear to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. They may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels.”
Here are some tasty examples of foods with healthy fats:
- Omega-3 fats: fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, canola oil, flaxseed, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts have omega-3. Eat a great source once a day.
- Omega-6 fats (we repeat: in moderation): these fats are found in meat, eggs, olive oil, and vegetable oils. If these fats aren’t consumed in moderation they can neutralize the benefits of omega-3s. Quite the balancing act, right?
- Vegetable oils: this includes olive, canola, sunflower, soy, and corn oil.
- Saturated fats from grass-fed animals.
- Other foods with healthy fat content: shrimp, eggs (we’re fans of free-range), some dairy products, peanut oils, and dark green veggies.