When it comes to diet and nutrition, fat is a nutrient that has been stigmatized as something that you should avoid. For years you have been told that if you want to lose weight, you have to eat low-fat foods or avoid fat all together. This may seem like a good idea, but if you eliminate fat from your diet you will deprive your body of essential nutrients that your body needs to be healthy. Instead of eliminating fat from your diet, it is better to eliminate certain types of fat and include others.
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Physiology of Fat
Fats are used by your body for many functions including cell membrane physiology, energy production, absorption of vitamins and some fats even provide health benefits like a reduced risk for heart disease. Fats are essential to your body's function and must be included in your diet for you to have the health benefits associated with them. There are essentially three main types of fats that you should be concerned with when it comes to your diet: saturated fat, unsaturated fat and trans fat.
Fats To Avoid
Fats are essential to your health, but you should know the difference between good fats and bad fats. Bad fats are fats that come from animal products and are called saturated fats. Saturated fats trigger cholesterol production in your body and can lead to high cholesterol and other forms of heart disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as meat and dairy products. The second type of fat that you should avoid is trans fat. Trans fats are found in vegetable shortenings, margarine, crackers, cookies, snack foods, french fries, fast foods and processed foods. The Harvard School of Public Health reasons that trans fats are worse for cholesterol levels than saturated fats because trans fats raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol at the same time.
According to the CDC, most of the fat in your diet should come from unsaturated sources. Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats are healthy fats that are used by your body and provide health benefits. Generally speaking, unsaturated fats come from nuts, vegetable oils and fish. Unsaturated fats do not raise blood cholesterol levels like saturated fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are a form of polyunsaturated fat that have been shown to reduce inflammation and may lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Good Sources of Healthy Fats
The CDC lists some good sources of unsaturated fat, which include nuts, canola oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, avocados, walnuts, flaxseed and fish like salmon, trout and herring. Healthy fats are an essential component of a healthy diet and should be eaten every day.