A lot is being said on healthy and unhealthy fats, how eating health-positive fat impacts body functions for the better and how eating health-negative fats is in the body’s detriment, meaning there are many discussions on fat’s effect on health.
Fat in diets and do we need fatty foods?
The relation between food and health is obvious. Food is the second basic need for both humans and animals to survive. Water is first.
But what about fat? Just how important is fat on a diet and are fats all that necessary? Moreover, could a diet without fat be unhealthier than fatty-foods diets?
The importance of fat in diets
Fat is an essential energy source for the body, and it plays an important role in helping the body function properly.
The human body uses fat for energy, but also to build cell membranes and absorb nutrients. When you don’t eat enough fat, there is the risk of developing fat deficiency which is represented by symptoms like mood swings and depression, dry skin, and dry hair, splitting finger nails and disorientation. Fats are therefore necessary to protect the body, and they should be part of our daily diet.
Not all fat is bad
A common misconception and one of the reasons why many people avoid consuming fat is that fat is bad for you.
While too much fat is indeed bad because it leads to weight gain and triggers health issues, eating enough fat and the right type of fat is healthy. Fat can be saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and in the form of trans fats.
Saturated fat is said to cause health issues when eating too much of it, while monounsaturated is said to protect against heart disease, although some health professionals claim monounsaturated fatty acids are neither good nor bad for health, but plain neutral.
Trans fats are made synthetically in a process called hydrogenation where manufacturers add hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils so that they become solid.
Trans fat foods last longer on the shelf, which is why the majority of the processed foods on the market are made with trans fats.
- Saturated fats are found in animal products and processed foods like meat, dairies, cakes and pastries.
- Trans fats are found in processed foods and fast foods like French fries, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, doughnuts, biscuits, etc.
Foods for Healthy Fat
Nutritionists recommend always choosing unsaturated fats over trans fats.
- Unsaturated fat is found in products like olive oil, wild-caught fish such as salmon, herring, tuna, sardines and halibut, nuts such as almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts, and seeds such as flax seeds and chia seeds.
The recommended fat intake for adults is 20% to 35% of the total daily calorie intake, of which most should constitute healthy fats. Getting too much or too little fat per day inevitably leads to health issues, but one thing to consider if you are struggling with obesity is that fat isn’t always the underlying cause. In fact, according to researchers, eating carbohydrates in excess may make us gain weight.
What’s most important is that you consume enough of the right type of fat along with the right amount of carbohydrates and protein for good health and optimal weight.