Until recently, fat has been stigmatized in the food industry as unhealthy and containing no nutritional value. Why? It turns out that in the 1960's the sugar industry paid for research to cover up the strong connection between sugar and heart disease. The research also blamed fat as the main cause of heart disease and other health issues. These studies essentially allowed the sugar industry to market high fat food as unhealthy. So how do you make fat free food palatable? You add sugar. Lots of it. See the connection? We know that fat isn't all that bad for you, but is it good for you? That is where it gets a little more complicated.
Fat you should eat
Your body needs fat as it's main source of energy. It is essential for major functions like protecting your nerves, allowing your body to absorb nutrients, and promoting muscle and brain development. As with almost anything you eat, the less processed it is, the better. The same goes with fat. The best fats come from nuts, seeds and plants like avocados. Other essential fat sources are polyunsaturated fats like vegetable oils and Omega-3 fatty acid. Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel are main sources of Omega-3, but you can also obtain them from flax seeds, walnuts and supplementation. Omega-3 in particular has major benefits that include brain, heart and lung development and providing anti inflammatory properties.
Fat you should skip
While you do not need to limit unsaturated fats, you should use caution when consuming trans fat or "trans fatty acids". This type of fat can contribute to insulin resistance, cause inflammation and is linked to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. These types of food include packaged snacks, microwave popcorn, fried foods, and some margarine brands.
To ensure you get good fat in your diet, choose and prepare meals that are based on vegetables, whole grains, and fish. Limit your consumption of sugary high fat food like pastries and baked goods as well as processed packaged snacks and fried items.
Sources: Harvard Health Publications - Harvard Medical School
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