As discussed in Macronutrients 101, fat is one of three large energy-yielding nutrients that make up this group, the others being Carbohydrates and Proteins. Contrary to popular belief, fat is essential and helps with a whole host of important functions within the body such as absorbing vitamins, supplying the body with omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, energy and is vital in protecting your heart and brain health.
Fat is found in many foods and comes from both animal and vegetable sources. Often receiving bad press, fat is misunderstood by many. For years we have been told that fat will add inches to the waistline, raise cholesterol, and cause all kinds of health problems. Of course, these can indeed be symptomatic of too much fat but it is actually too much of certain types of fats and not enough of others which is detrimental, and not fat per se. Fat is energy-dense, in other words, it has a whole heap of the stuff in a nice small package. Sound good? Well, it can be, but it also becomes really easy to eat more than we need.
Fat comes in 4 main categories and as a general rule, there are 2 you should try and reduce in your diet, trans fats, and saturated fat. Both of these bad boys increase LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol but trans fats may also decrease your levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol making the effects of trans fats even worse than saturated fat. Now, bring on the good guys, Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. So they don’t exactly roll off the tongue but trust us, these guys are your friends and where fat is used in our diets we should ensure they are one of these two. Monounsaturated fats appear to protect against heart disease by increasing the levels of our old friend HDL cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats help with growth and playing an important role in brain and eye function as well as keeping an eye on your ticker. As I said, they are your friend.
Olive oil, nuts, avocado, lean meats, oily fish, walnuts, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, sesame, and corn are all great sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. We believe in creating balanced, healthy habits that last a lifetime and these are essential building blocks for a healthy nutrition plan.