The Role of Fat in your Diet

crop person holding handful of raw almonds

Why are trans fats bad for you, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats good for you, and saturated fats somewhere in-between?

Fat is a major source of energy. It helps you absorb some vitamins and minerals and is needed to build cell membranes, the vital exterior of each cell, and the sheaths surrounding nerves. It is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation. For long-term health, some fats are better than others. Good fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Bad ones include industrial-made trans fats. Saturated fats fall somewhere in the middle.

1. Trans Fat

Trans fat has been shown to raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels and must be eliminated from your diet. Trans fat is normally found in fried foods, fast food, typical snack foods (chips, cookies, etc.), doughnuts and various pastries.

2. Saturated Fat

While saturated fat may be pretty bad for the average person who isn’t very active and eats too much junk (or just eats too much in general), it may actually not be too harmful (in small amounts) for fit and healthy people who eat right and exercise regularly. High levels of saturated fats are found in red meat, dairy and coconut oil.

3. Monounsaturated fat

Monounsaturated fat, which is most abundant in foods like nuts and various plant oils like olive oil, will most often end up comprising the majority of your total fat intake. Research shows that monounsaturated fats may help lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.

4. Polyunsaturated fat

Omega-6 and Omega-3 are polyunsaturated fats. They are your essential fatty acids, and that means your body REQUIRES them in order to keep you alive and functioning properly. And, since your body is incapable of producing them on its own, it’s up to your diet to supply a sufficient amount of it on a regular basis.

The omega-3 & 6 fatty acids, which is most abundant in fish, fish oil supplements, nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocados, basically improves your body’s ability to do just about EVERYTHING (build muscle, lose fat, lowers your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, raises your good (HDL) cholesterol levels, and reduces inflammation etc.

Also worth mentioning now is that it may also help with calorie partitioning. Meaning, when in a caloric surplus, calories will be more likely to go towards building muscle rather than being stored as fat. And when in a caloric deficit, your body will be more likely to burn fat instead of muscle.

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