Category: Nutrition | Fat
Fat: What is it, and Why Do We Need It?
We love it, we hate it and we need to eat it every day! Let’s learn more about this essential nutrient and how to enjoy it in our diets.
The Good News…
… is that it is a nutrient! It is crucial for normal body function and without it we could not live, and not only does it supply us with energy, it also makes it possible for other nutrients to do their jobs.
The Bad News…
… is that we need to be eating the right types. Fat can make us fat, so can carbs, but what is more important is that eating too much of the wrong types will raise our cholesterol levels leading to cardiovascular diseases.
What is Fat?
To answer this I have to get a little technical, so, please, bear with me. Consisting of any of a wide group of compounds, is usually soluble in organic solvents, and insoluble in water. Fat is a lipid, one of many of the lipid molecules, as such its functions are to store energy, signaling, and constructural components of cell membranes.
That sure does sound important, so without going into more details, we need it to stay healthy.
What Types of Fats Should We Be Eating?
Trans Fat – NEVER! Nothing organic about these, they are made synthetically, through industrial processes. They are not necessary for our health, and raise our low density lipoprotein (LDL), raising our cholesterol levels. Why were they even produced in the first place, they are cheap and easy to manufacture to add some flavor to foods. I would like to see us all promote a ban on trans fats, so stop eating them.
Stay away from fried foods! That’s right, no french fries, donuts, pastries, most pizza crusts, cookies, crackers, stick margarines and shortenings. Make your own so you know what is in them!!!
Saturated Fats – NO! Avoid these as much as possible, as saturated fats contain low density lipoprotein (LDL) which raises the cholesterol in our blood leading to cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Foods with saturated fats to avoid, at least limit our intake are meats (mammals), lamb, poultry skin, dairy products and processed foods.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of saturated fats you eat to less than 7 percent of total daily calories. That means, such as, if you need about 2,000 calories a day, no more than 140 of them should come from saturated fats. That’s about 16 grams of saturated fats a day.
Monounsaturated fats – OK! Can be beneficial to our health when eaten in moderation, and is typically high in the antioxidant vitamin E.
Let’s get our monounsaturated fats from vegetable oils such as olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil and sesame oil. Also, look to avocados, peanut butter, and many nuts and seeds.
Let’s look at polyunsaturated fats before we talk about how much monounsaturated fat we should be eating…
Polyunsaturated fats – Good! They are beneficial, lowering our cholesterol and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. And, they are believed to help brain function and ease arthritis joint pain. The body needs fat, this is the primary type of fat to consume.
Let’s get these healthy fats, these omega’s 3 and 6’s, from fish, particularly salmon, sardines, herring, trout and mackerel. You will, also, find this in safflower oil, grape seed oil, and sunflower oil.
How Much Fat Should We Be Eating?
Now that we know what to focus our intake on, first, polyunsaturated then monounsaturated, then it gets down to how much should we be eating.
There is not a definitive answer to this question as it will depend on the amount of exercise you are getting, but we are going to go with the general guidance recommended by the American Heart Association, which are that 25 to 35% of our daily diet should be from fats. As all fats contain 9 calories per gram, for a 2000 calorie daily diet we are looking at 55 to 78 grams of fat per day.
Other Facts To Know
“We know obese people live, on average, less time. Here we are going into the DNA sequence of these people and showing this condition is associated with a biomarker of aging,” said Eric Ravussin of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. “I think it’s going to stimulate a lot of research.”
In a study by NE Gulcelik, M Halil, S Ariogul, A Usman on ‘Adipocytokines and aging: adiponectin and leptin‘ is shown that aging is associated with fat redistribution, which is characterized by loss of peripheral subcutaneous fat and accumulation of visceral fat. Visceral adipose tissue is more involved in the development of metabolic diseases than subcutaneous adipose tissue.
Basically, what this study is saying is that when we start developing pockets of fat (ie. beer belly) we start aging faster.
Another study, which supports the above is…
Fat and protein redistribution with aging:metabolic considerations | EJCN | Nature.com
Aging is associated with a redistribution of both fat and lean tissue within the body. Intra-abdominal fat (IAF) accumulates more rapidly than total fat while the loss of lean body mass is mostly due to sarcopenia. Increase of visceral fat plays a major role in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance, which leads to type II diabetes and also to cardiovascular diseases.
Eat Right, Keep Fit
- 25 to 35% of our diet should be monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat
- The older we get the higher the priority we must place on getting our daily exercise
What is fat? How much fat should I eat? | Medical News Today
What Is Fat? | PBS.org
Fat | Wikipedia.org
Fat Found to Accelerate Aging Process | The Washington Post
Adiponectin and Visceral Fat Tissue in Aging | FightAging.org