What’s Good About Fat?
Fat supplies essential fatty acids (EFAs). They are essential because your body is incapable of producing EFAs, known as linolenic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, so it must be derived from food. In addition, fat ferries vitamins A, D, E, and K, known as fat-soluble vitamins, into and around the body, making them necessary for healthy skin, eyesight, and brain development, to name a few.
For the good it does, it is often singled out as the culprit for weight problems. At 9 calories per gram, any type of fat, good or bad, packs more than twice the calories of carbohydrates and protein. However, dietary fat does not equal body fat. Weight gain comes from excessive calories, regardless of the source.
What’s Bad About Fat?
Diets rich in saturated fat and trans fat
(both bad) raise blood cholesterol concentrations, contributing to clogged arteries that block the flow of oxygen-rich blood the heart and brain. But very low fat diets, 15% or less of daily calories may not reduce artery-clogging compounds in the bloodstream in everyone. Nor can most people maintain a very low-fat diet in the long run. The American Heart Association
recommends 25% -35% of our calories from fat daily. When it comes to dietary fat, quantity and quality matter.
Unsaturated, monounsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats (good fats), should be the dominate type of fat in a balanced diet. Monounsaturated fats can have a beneficial effect on your health, when eaten in moderation and when used to replace saturated or trans fats. Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. It has also been shown to offer protection against certain cancers, like breast and colon. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells. Monounsaturated fats are also typically high in Vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin most Americans need more of. It is the primary fat in the following:
Olive, canola, peanut and sesame oils
Nuts, like almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts and peanut butter (brands containing no partially-hydrogenated oils - read the label)