Dietary fat has long been a villain of the dietary world. Everywhere you went, the message was loud and clear: fat is bad. However, fats are making a comeback! Of course it’s not that simple, because nothing in the field of dietary science is. But there has long been a misconception that fats in the diet cause obesity and heart disease, and dietary cholesterol is a contributor to heart disease. New research proves that fat, albeit healthy fat, is an essential and critical component of a healthy diet.
Health Benefits of Fat
Fats are beneficial to our health in many ways. Fats are nutrients in food that the body uses to build nerve tissue including the brain, nerves and hormones. Adequate fat intake is essential to growth and development. Young children especially need a certain amount of fat in their diets to help the brain and nervous system develop correctly.
Unsaturated fats can actually help remove LDL cholesterol from arteries and promote a healthier heart. Additionally, fat supplies fuel for the body helps with the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K, are the building blocks of hormones, and are important to feeling satiated.
The Downsides of Fat
Of course, too much of a good thing is not always good. Fat is a great source of energy, but it also has twice the amount of calories compared with the same amount of carbohydrates or protein.
If fats eaten aren't burned as energy or used as building blocks, then the fat is stored in the body. This is the body's way of conserving energy for when food may be scarce.
A Common Misconception About Fat
A common misconception regarding weight and dietary fats is that eating fat may make you fat. In reality, consuming too many calories for one’s needs regardless of where those calories come from will cause weight gain and the production of more fat cells.
The nutrition message has ultimately changed since the days of demonizing fats. It is better understood that we cannot pick out a certain nutrient, like fat, and say it is good either good or bad. We must look at the diet as a whole, rather than just one food or nutrient. And we should encourage more wholesome, less altered foods within a certain calorie range to help with overall health and weight management.
The End Message
My end message is simple: fat is not bad and fat is necessary for proper bodily function. Be sure to steer clear of overindulging in too many calories and too much fat, and focus your attention on so-called “healthy fats” for optimal health benefits of fat.
Are you ready to experience the health benefits of controlled calorie intake combined with a diet consisting of healthy fats? A low fat meal plan from Seattle Sutton Healthy Eating is a great place to start. Choose from our selection of healthy meal plans and get started on your own healthy lifestyle success story.