When it comes to fats, people typically categorize them in the following way: proteins are good, carbs are bad, and fats make people fat. The truth is that fats get a bad rap, mostly due to related health effects caused by an abundance of unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats. In reality, we need fats to survive. So, here are five facts about fats in a healthy diet:
1. Fats = Energy
There are two ways in which the human body can acquire fat to use as energy. The body can create its own fats to be stored for future use, or the fats can be consumed. In the earlier days of human existence, people would hunt and consume meats in abundance. This behavior led to weight gain in the form of fat, which could then be burned as a source of energy during times when food supplies were less fruitful.
2. Fats Are Helpful
There are several essential micronutrients, including vitamins A, D, E, and K that require fat in order to be absorbed into the body. Drizzling olive oil or safflower oil to salads will not only add to the flavor but help your body process and absorb all the nutritional value of those fresh veggies & fat-soluble nutrients.
3. Fats Support Cells
The human body is highly capable of manufacturing its own fat, however, there are two types of fatty acids that the body can’t create, and instead must be consumed. Omega-3 and omega-6, (also known as alpha-linoleic & linoleic acid), aid in the formation of cell membranes and nerve tissue, as well as the regulation of biochemical processes inside our cells. These fatty acids can be found in sunflower seeds, safflower oil, eggs, fish, and more.
4. Fats Protect & Regulate
Another function of fat is to help cushion our internal organs. Visceral fat surrounds and protects organs like the heart, kidneys, and liver. Fats also help regulate our body temperature, via the subcutaneous layer beneath our skin. Adipose tissue, which contains fat-storing cells, secrets a hormone that helps regulate appetite, which is part of the reason that consuming foods high in healthy fats can help keep you feeling satiated long after eating.
5. Fats Are Tasty
The human body needs fat to survive for energy, for cell production, to protect our organs, and to help us break down essential nutrients, so it’s no surprise that fats naturally taste good. The challenge is being mindful of the fats we eat, making healthful choices, and avoiding or limiting foods high in trans or saturated fats.
My favorite healthy fat I use every day to cook with and drizzle over my salads and vegetables is extra virgin olive oil (I love Trader Joe’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spray). I hope these tips help you to incorporate more healthy fats into your healthy eating and until next week, be happy, healthy, and beautiful!