When I was a teen in the 80s and 90s, low-fat became the thing. It seemed like it would be the magic answer to staying slim and healthy. I remember bingeing on things like Licorice, Fig Newtons, and SnackWells. I thought I was making a healthy choice since they are low-fat or fat-free. WRONG! Since dietary decreasing fat has become in vogue, the rates of obesity have doubled.
Low-fat or fat-free usually means higher carbohydrates and sugar. Because the fat that keeps you fuller longer is less, you tend to get hungry again sooner, leading to overeating. Low fat is not the answer.
So, here are 10 reasons that I choose to regularly, and purposely eat dietary fat in my diet:
ONE – Fats are a source of essential fatty acids for cell membrane production. Your cells are constantly being turned over. Your body constructs new cells from the building blocks you provide with your diet. Essential fatty acids are fatty acids that your body can’t make but can only be obtained from your diet and are necessary to make the membranes of cells. The bottom line is you need healthy fat to make healthy cells. Your body can’t get it from anywhere but your diet or a supplement.
TWO – Fats are necessary for vitamin absorption. Some vitamins are water-soluble, but others are fat-soluble. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins and are only absorbed in the presence of fat. These vitamins are necessary for maintaining a healthy immune system, strong bones, vision, appropriate blood clotting, and disease protection.
THREE – Gram for gram fats provide the highest source of energy. Carbohydrates and protein contain 4 calories per gram while fat provides 9 calories per gram. When counting calories, this can seem like a bad thing, but these are dense calories that provide energy and satiety which often leads to eating less overall.
FOUR – Fats increase satiety. Fats keep you fuller longer.
FIVE – Fats reduce the blood sugar spike that comes from eating carbohydrates. When you eat carbohydrates your blood sugar spikes, which leads to an insulin spike, which leads to a blood sugar crash. Have you ever had a bowl of cereal and then felt super hungry 2 hours later? Yep, well that is why. Consuming fats doesn’t result in a blood sugar spike, so there is no insulin spike and there is no inevitable crash later.
SIX – Fats are necessary for optimal brain function. The proper kinds of fats are essential for memory and learning.
SEVEN – Fats don’t make you fat. Sugar does. And low fat is essentially replacing fat with sugar.
EIGHT – Fats are necessary for the production of hormones. Do you want to know the secret to vibrant health and the overall slowing of the aging process? Keeping your hormones balanced. Your body needs fat to produce hormones so your health and your libido can improve simply by eating the right kind of fat.
NINE – Fats are necessary for wound healing.
TEN – Fats are needed for eye health.
Ok, before you go and eat donuts and cookies because you are convinced that dietary fat is good for you, read on.
Fat is good for you but it has to be the right KIND of fat. You knew there was a catch, didn’t you?
And when you eat the wrong kind of fat and pair it with sugar, it’s a double whammy.
I like to simplify things, so I think of fat in 3 categories: good fat, medium fat, and bad fat. Real scientific, I know.
Lastly, the bad fat is trans fat.
Trans fat is inflammatory and leads to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. This type is found in all of those tasty treats–baked goods, fried foods, cookies, and candies. Avoid these fats as much as possible.
Medium fat is saturated fat. This is the type of fat found in animal products, meat, dairy, and eggs. This fat is good for you as long as it is eaten in moderation.
Good fat is unsaturated fat, which can further be divided into monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.
Foods in this category include:
- Plant-based oils (olive, canola, sesame, and safflower)
- Nut butters
- Fatty fish
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
Unsaturated fats are anti-inflammatory and they are essential–meaning your body can’t make them and is relying on YOU to provide them.
So, yes dietary fat is good for you just as long as it is the right kind of fat.
Remember: Low-fat usually means high carbohydrates and the same number of calories. Fat has the most calories per gram and therefore provides the most energy and satiety. Good and healthy unsaturated fat is necessary for optimal health and vibrant wellness.
In summary, try to incorporate some healthy fat into your diet every day and watch your health improve.