Along with protein and carbohydrates, fat makes up the three macronutrients you should know about. However, because fat shares the same name as the mass that adds up on the body, which is usually unwanted, it often has a bad reputation, and people make the mistake of eliminating fat from their diet entirely.
This article will give you some important reasons why fat is important for your overall health and should be a part of your diet.
Fat Is Needed For Nutrient Absorption
Even if your goal is to lose some weight, if you want to feel your best, you’re going to need to include dietary fat each day. Otherwise, you might have some trouble getting the most out of the nutrient-rich healthier food choices you might be making.
For example, there are a few very important vitamins that you might be familiar with – A, D, E, and K, and these are all fat-soluble, meaning that they require fat to be absorbed optimally in the body.
Ordinarily, you can get these from meat and dairy sources, which tend to have fat, but you can also get them from vegetables as well.
However, while eating vegetables is good for your health in terms of vitamins, fiber, and not being calorically dense, it does not have any fat, and people often skip out on adding dressing which could give them the fat needed to make use of the vitamins and other nutrients that they are taking in.
Therefore, if you’re going to eat salads, it’s acceptable to include some healthy fat sources, like avocado, nuts, and olive oil or a vinaigrette for your dressing. Make sure to avoid thick dressings like ranch, bleu cheese, thousand island, and caesar, though, as these are high in calories and will sabotage your weight loss goals.
Fat Is Important For Brain Function
Did you know that your brain is composed of nearly 60 percent fat? Being the fattiest organ that you have, it should be no surprise that your brain needs fat not to grow but for its numerous mechanisms.
From carrying out basic cognitive abilities, to forming and retaining memories, to our central nervous and neuroendocrine systems, you will need a sufficient amount of dietary fat in order for your brain to perform its best. It’s also crucial for the production of cells and your eyesight.
Of the macronutrients, fat is the most calorically dense, consisting of 9 calories per gram of fat, and this means that it also becomes an important source of energy for the brain to carry out its countless tasks each day.
This doesn’t mean that you should be piling on the fat, though, and as mentioned in the previous section, you’ll need to find healthy fat sources in order to achieve optimal brain health while also being mindful of your weight and health of the rest of your body.
One of the best fats for your brain are Omega-3s such as DHA and EPA, or docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, respectively. These can be abundant in very popular fatty fish like salmon and tuna. If you’re looking to replace your red meats and have more to choose from than just poultry, this is the way to go.
However, if you’re vegan, you can get your Omega-3s, specifically alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), in from nuts and seeds and supplements.
When Should Fat Be Avoided?
As you can see, fat has an important role in the human body and shouldn’t be outright eliminated, just like you shouldn’t remove carbohydrates either.
That being said, you must still be mindful of how much you eat and where you’re getting it from – not all fats are created equally!
As mentioned before, a gram of fat is worth 9 calories, and this can really add up, and excess calories are why people gain weight, ideally, you’ll want to go for low-fat, but fat-free options are good too as long as you have a way to get healthy fats elsewhere without putting you in a caloric surplus.
The best fats for your overall health are the unsaturated fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Saturated fats can be healthy too, but should be consumed in moderation since it is found in foods that can increase your cholesterol, like red meat and dairy.
The type of fat you should avoid completely is trans-fats, which are found in processed and junk foods that tend to be very high in calories and can increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Unfortunately, these foods can taste good and provide a temporary sense of relief, and they can be a source of comfort for people.
If food has been a coping tool for you and the act of comfort eating is preventing you from reaching your goals, professional assistance is available to help you stay on track.
Stress is a significant reason why people become emotionally dependent on food, and this can cause people to gain more weight and perpetuates chronic mental health problems like depression and anxiety. By talking to a counselor or therapist at BetterHelp, you can find new coping skills to replace food, which will aid you in keeping the weight off and become a healthier and fitter version of yourself.
Fat isn’t all bad as they make it out to be; in fact, it’s essential for the body and should be praised more than it gets. That doesn’t mean you should stop being careful, though, and by keeping track of your calories and macros, you’ll be much more likely to be successful in your journey to your goal weight and healthier living.