I have a lot of clients who are on a weight-loss journey and so many of them have a “fat” phobia. They think if they eat fat, they will get fat, but that is not the case my friends when it comes to healthy fats. Let me clear up the conclusion.
Why You Need Fat:
Dietary fat provides you with energy, builds healthy cells, and regulates your hormones. Your brain needs fat in order to function properly—in fact, did you know that your brain is 60 percent fat? Studies have linked lack of dietary fat in one’s diet to depression as well as cognitive decline.
The Good Fats
Monounsaturated Fats: Known as MUFAs (Monounsaturated Fatty Acids), these fats actually help prevent belly fat. Even better, they help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol, and raise your HDL (good) cholesterol. Good monounsaturated fats include: olive oil, cashews almonds or peanuts (this includes almond butter and peanut butter). I would recommend a quarter cup of the nut choices, 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a dressing, or 2 Tablespoons of a nut butter on whole grain bread to get a nice daily serving of these good-for-you fats.
Polyunsaturated Fats: Like MUFAs, polyunsaturated fats(PUFAS) lower your LDL. And PUFAS are the specific fats that have shown amazing benefits to your brain from mood improvement to boosting brain function. In particular it is the Omega-3 form of polyunsaturated fats that your body needs most. Omega-3s are broken down into DHA, which is amazingly beneficial to your brain and EPA, which is known for its benefits you joint health and your skin. Both forms are excellent for heart health.
Omega-3s are found in fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring, as well as flaxseed and walnuts. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fish a week. I would add that ground flaxseed in oatmeal is delicious (try it—a couple tablespoons a couple times a week). Like all nuts, a good serving of walnuts is one-quarter cup.
Omega-6s are also polyunsaturated fats that are found in oils like sesame oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil, and safflower oil. Omega-6s benefits include the reduction of nerve pain, possibly helpful with ADHD, and they may ease Rheumatoid arthritis pain. However, too much Omega-6 compared to Omega-3 can cause inflammation and the Standard American Diet is inundated with Omega-6s because of the use of Omega-6 oils in processed food. If you reduce the amount of processed food that you consume, the safer you will be!
The Bad Fats
Saturated Fat: A high consumption of saturated fats will result in weight gain, not to mention that they raise your LDL cholesterol and can increase heart-disease risk. Saturated fat is found in most meat and in full-fat dairy like butter, milk, cream, cheese, etc. I recommend eating lean meat like chicken or turkey breast or leaner cuts of beef like sirloin. I also recommend eating low-fat cheese and drinking skim milk.
Trans Fat: Trans fat has gotten a lot of media attention the past decade ever since food companies were required to list the amount of trans fat in their foods starting in 2006. Trans fats are generally oils (partially hydrogenated soybean oil for example) that extend the shelf life of food. They raise your LDL, lower your HDL, and cause inflammation throughout the body, including weight gain.
The bottom line here is to read nutrition labels and look for 0 grams of trans fat and avoid fried food as much as possible because the majority of fried food has trans fat.
Now that you are clear on fat, make sure to include some good fats on your weight-loss journey.