Importance of Having Good and Healthy Fats in Your Diet
There is a lot of focus on the need to reduce fat from the diet; however, the body does need fat. Children need fat for normal brain development, and adults need fat for energy and to support overall growth. Therefore, don’t underestimate the importance of having good fats in diet.
What Is Cholesterol?
When talking about fat, is important to talk about cholesterol since fat directly influences the amount and type of cholesterol in the body. Many people think that cholesterol is a bad thing, but, it is actually a necessary lipid in the body that helps to form cell membranes, and is important to normal development and function of the body.
Cholesterol produces hormones, such as testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, and these hormones play a part in specific gender traits as well as reproduction. And, cholesterol also makes the hormone cortisol, which helps to defend the body against infection and regulate blood sugar levels.
Good cholesterol (HDL) helps to transfer bad cholesterol from the arteries to the liver, where it gets eliminated from the body.
Bad cholesterol (LDL) contributes to a thick plaque deposit in the arteries, which reduces flexibility and can clog arteries. This is when a stroke or heart attack can occur.
How Much Good Fat Is Needed?
While good fat can help the body in a number of ways, there is not a need for excess fat. The body only requires small amounts of fat, and too much fat will result in weight gain as it still has a lot of calories. It is important to pay attention to the daily amount of fat you add to your diet and limit it to a small portion.
“Dietary guidelines suggest that healthy adults generally limit dietary fat to no more than 20 to 35 percent of total daily calories.” – Mayo Clinic
What Do Fats Do To Cholesterol?
Fats are made up of building blocks called fatty acids. Fat is converted to fatty acids inside our body. These are saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fatty acids.
Saturated fatty acids: The liver uses these fatty acids to make cholesterol. The body already produces cholesterol on its own, and this is why too much of this fatty acid can raise the cholesterol, especially bad cholesterol, and cause clogged arteries that can result in brain and heart disease. It is recommended that the daily intake of saturated fatty acids be below 10 percent of total daily calories; however, if you have problems with high cholesterol, even that may be too high.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids: These help to lower the total blood cholesterol level, including bad cholesterol. They also add vitamin E to the diet, which is an antioxidant that most people are lacking. Lastly, they provide fats that your body requires but can’t produce, such as omega-3. However, large amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids can also reduce your good cholesterol, which is why the recommendations is to stay below 10 percent of total daily calories.
Monounsaturated fatty acids: These can help to lower bad cholesterol levels without affecting the good cholesterol. Essentially these fatty acids help to regulate the amount of bad cholesterol in the body, and can prevent disease. Research has also shown these fatty acids to be beneficial for prevention of breast cancer, reducing belly fat, and reducing pain in the body.
The Importance Of Eating Good Fats In The Diet
As you can see, eating good fats can help eliminate bad cholesterol and reduces your risk of heart disease or stroke. They also provide energy to get you through your day, but fat does even more than that.
Fat soluble vitamins need fat to be absorbed. Vitamin A, D, E, and K are all examples of fat soluble vitamins. These vitamins are responsible for a wide variety of benefits including good eye health, neutralizing free radicals, protecting cells, normal skin and hair, and blood clotting.
Fat also helps to stabilize the body’s temperature by insulating the body and protecting it from extreme temperature conditions.