A Look Into Fats in the Diet
By Dr. Edwin Chun | Chiropractor, Lifestyle Nutritionist
Fats are a macronutrient (a large group of consumed nutrients) known to provide energy in the human diet. Fats are dense calorie-rich sources of long-term stored energy found in plants and animals.
Fats provide many essential roles in survival. To name a few, they provide extra insulation around tissues and also provide thermal protection.
However, there are many human diseases in modern society that are related to excess fats in the diet. This article is meant to get a simple understanding of fats found in the diet and look at their importance.
Not all fats are considered bad. Bad fats are fats that are detrimental to human health. For example, TRANS FATS are a class of fats that are now banned by most countries because they are known to be dangerous to human health.
You should avoid all trans fats in your diet for good health. They were once found in many types of baked goods and eaten regularly in the past before they were understood.
Other fats known to be bad fats because of their effect on weight gain and stimulating disease are SATURATED FATS. These are fats commonly from animal products but also found in some plants such as nuts.
They are considered bad fats because the consumption of too many will cause weight gain and increase many diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease etc. It is recommended that people watch their consumption of saturated fats especially if they already have a disease and limit consuming too much of this fat in their diet. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats to no more than 7% of total calories.
Now for the good fats. Some fats are considered good because they are associated with better health roles within the body. For example, they can help reduce cholesterol and decrease inflammation if they are substituted for bad fats that could be eaten, like eating nuts and seeds instead of ice cream.
MONOUNSATURATED FATS are fats from plants commonly in nuts and seeds like pumpkin, avocados, and olive oil. Because they are rich in many additional nutrients they have a positive effect on health.
Another class of good fats is POLYUNSATURATED FATS which are also from plant sources like nuts, seeds, and some oils like sunflower, flaxseed. These fats are also associated with beneficial functions in human health. The American Heart Association recommends 8-10 percent of daily calories come from polyunsaturated fats.
Another class of important good fats is ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS known as the OMEGA-3 fats. These fats are essential fats in that they are required in the diet and cannot be produced by the body. They have important disease resistance functions like decreasing inflammation and blood fats and improving human health. They are found in plant sources such as seeds like chia, flax, hemp, sesame, walnuts as well as cold-water fish. The recommended amount of Omega-3 is typically 1.6 grams per day for men and 1.1 grams per day for women.
So with fats in the diet, it is important to identify what type of fat it is and also the amount. Many people are eating too much of the wrong type of fat and not enough of the good ones. Managing and understanding your diet is an essential key to controlling your health and staying well.
If you would like help with starting a better diet please feel free to contact us and work with professionals who care about helping you get better.