Don’t fear fat! Fat doesn’t make you fat. Some of the most nutritious foods out there are high in fat. The human body needs fat, because it gives us energy, builds cell membranes, helps with blood clotting and muscle movement, reduces inflammation, and helps us absorb some vitamins and minerals. There are “good” fats and there are “bad” fats. The good fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, bad fats are man-made trans fats, and saturated fats fall in between the good and bad spectrum.
Since dietary fat has so many benefits, it can actually help people lose weight, which is still surprising to many people these days. Fat can help a person fill fuller for longer, so a person potentially is consuming fewer calories. When a person eats fat, it also helps slow the entry of glucose into the bloodstream, which helps moderate the blood sugar levels. With that said, fat is better at controlling appetite and cravings than short chain/highly absorbable carbohydrates, which give people a more crash and burn effect.
Here is some more details about the different kinds of fats:
Monounsaturated Fats – These fats have a single carbon-to-carbon double bond; their structure allows them to usually be liquid at room temperature. The unsaturated double bond has room to add hydrogen atom from water. These fats can be found in avocados, olive oil, peanut oil, most nuts, canola oil, sunflower oil, and high-oleic oil.
Polyunsaturated Fats – Some are essentials fats, and are liquid in both the fridge and in room temperature. Essential fats mean the body requires them for normal bodily functions and the body can’t produce these fats. Essential fats must be eaten/consumed. Polyunsaturated fats can reduce (slightly) LDL cholesterol. These good oils more significantly lower VLDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Polyunsaturated sources mostly come from vegetables and fish, including: salmon, herring, sardines, sunflower, safflower, soybean, flaxseed, cottonseed, corn, sesame and, grape-seed oils.
Trans Fats – This fat is a byproduct of hydrogenation, which turns healthy oils into solids to prevent them from spoiling. This type of fat consumption is associated with elevating LDL cholesterol as well as HDL cholesterol in the blood. Trans fats are implicated in promoting more oxidation of our bad/nonHDL cholesterol. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, for every 2 percent of calories from trans-fat consumed daily, the risk of heart disease increases by 23 percent!
Saturated Fats – These fats are solid at room temperature. Such fats include: red meat, whole milk, cheese, and coconut oil. Often baked processed and packaged foods are heavy in saturated (and trans) fat. Too much saturated fat in one’s diet can raise cholesterol (both LDL and HDL), which can lead to blocked arteries in the heart. It is recommended that saturated fat is limited to 10 percent of the day’s caloric intake.
Looking to improve your diet? Worried you’re not eating the right kinds of fats or too much of the bad stuff? Contact Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness in Fort Myers today. Dr. Kordonowy offers dietary counseling to his patients. Dr. Kordonowy also will assist in weight loss strategies. To book an appointment, click here or call 239-362-3005, ext. 200.