THE ROLE OF DIETARY FAT ON HEALTH & WELLNESS
All fats are not created equal.
There tends to be a lot of buzz in the health industry about dietary fat. Some sources recommend a low fat eating plan while others encourage you not to worry about what you eat. We do know that everyone needs fat in their diet but we need to remember that not all fats are healthy. It is also important to note that not everyone can eat the same amount of fat and maintain a healthy blood profile. Diets high in both saturated and trans fats, along with refined carbohydrates, can lead to arterial plaquing and insulin resistance.
Dietary fat is necessary for proper vitamin absorption and energy production. There are certain vitamins, such as A, D, E and K that are strictly fat soluble. This means that without the presence of adequate fat, your body will not be able to absorb these essential nutrients. This could put you at risk for several deficiencies such as impaired vision, decreased immune system and weak bones.
Types of dietary fats:
- Saturated fats: These are found in most of the food we eat but mostly in animal proteins and a few plant based oils.
- Trans fats: This type of fat is made when saturated fats are heated and hydrogen is added as a catalyst. This makes the fat more stable at room temperature and allows it to last longer without becoming rancid. This is the unhealthiest type of fat and is found in most processed foods. It is linked to insulin resistance and inflammation.
- Unsaturated fats: There are two types of unsaturated fats: poly and mono. These types of fats are thought to be more healthy because they can improve cholesterol levels, lower inflammation and possibly stabilize heart rhythms. Polyunsaturated fats are made up of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These types of fats can help “soften” the cell and lower your risk of inflammation, insulin resistance and reduce bad cholesterol levels. A few sources of polyunsaturated fats are: sunflower seeds, walnuts and fish. A few sources of monounsaturated fats are: olive oil, avocados, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin and sesame seeds.
It is important to vary the sources of dietary fat that you consume. When you cook, rotate your fats, and eat a variety of fish, nuts and seeds. Know where your foods are coming from and strive to eat nutrient dense whole foods. Remember, if you have to open a package, eat it in moderation.