Over the years, fat’s had a bad rap. Many avoid it like the plague, thinking eating fat will equal extra pounds. But that’s not necessarily true. In fact, fat is an important part of any diet, and is essential for good health!
If you want to live a healthy life and enjoy your food, it’s time to sort the fat facts from fat fiction. Read on for the skinny on fat.
1. Not all fats are created equal
When it comes to fats, the type you’re consuming is just as important as the quantity. Some sources of fat can even help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol! Generally speaking, unsaturated fats–such as those in avocados, olive oil, nuts and oily fish–are good, while saturated fats–in meats, butter, cheese–should be consumed in moderation.
2. And there’s one type of fat you should always avoid
Trans fats, made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, are known to increase bad cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, they’re hiding in more places than you might think! Fried chicken, shortcrust pastry, microwave popcorn, frozen dinners, sweet biscuits and packaged puddings are all loaded with the stuff. So, try and avoid products that list partially hydrogenated oil high on the ingredients list. And treat the above foods as, well, treats.
3. Fat’s great for your skin!
Want glowing, gorgeous skin? Eat more fat, specifically the healthy fats found in foods like coconut oil, avocado, grass-fed butter and wild-caught salmon. Dozens of studies have found healthy skin needs essential fatty acids. And, since our bodies don’t produce them by themselves, we have to get them from food.
4. It provides long-lasting energy
Fat is higher in energy than any other nutrient and it’s the ideal fuel for long-haul exercise, like a marathon. Even during high-intensity exercise, where carbs are the main fuel source, our bodies need fat to access the stored carbohydrate.
5. It protects your vital organs
Many of the body’s vital organs, including the kidneys, heart and intestine, are cushioned by fat that helps protect them from injury. See, sometimes a little extra padding can be a good thing!
6. It actually makes you smarter
Yep, it’s true! Fat builds brains by increasing production of a neurotransmitter important for learning and memory. According to research findings published in Neurology magazine, eating a meal of seafood or other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids at least once a week also decreases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.
7. It makes you want to eat less
Fat is satiating, meaning you’ll be less hungry more often. A study by UC Irvine pharmacologists also proved unsaturated fats trigger production of a compound that curbs hunger pangs. That means munching on a handful of nuts can help increase feelings of fullness and tell your brain ‘Stop eating, you’re full!’.
8. Fat keeps you warm!
Fatty foods, like meat, fish, eggs, nuts and full-fat dairy, raise your body’s pH level and may make you feel warmer. They also help build the layers of fat beneath the skin that stops heat from escaping. Think of fat as nature’s blanket.
9. It’s good for your heart
The Omega-3s found in fish are believed to reduce inflammation and support heart health. But other fats may also be beneficial. Moderate consumption of full-fat dairy and other animal fats, including bacon and egg yolks, may reduce the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. A 15-year study of over 3,000 adults found those with higher levels of dairy fat in their systems had a 46% lower risk of diabetes than those who regularly consumed only low-fat foods.
10. It helps the body use vitamins
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins, meaning you need dietary fat to absorb these vitamins into the body. So it turns out that eating your salad or veggie sticks with an oil-based salad dressing or creamy cheese may actually be better for you than eating them plain. Hooray!
Still scared eating fat will make you, um, fat? Here are six other reasons you’re not losing weight.