Why do I need to have fat in my diet?
Fat in the diet is an interesting thing, fat molecules serve the body in many ways. They play important roles like keeping you warm, maintaining cell membranes, and helping us to feel full. Good cholesterol is a type of lipid (fat), and it is important in building cell walls, digestion, hormone regulation, and helping absorb Vitamin D.
Every person needs essential fat in their body. For women, the lowest to be in the healthy range is 10-13% and for men, the lowest would be 2-5%. Women need more body fat than men due to the need to regulate hormones.
How much fat and cholesterol should you have every day?
Your daily percent of fat should be 20-30%; if you are trying to lose weight the lower end of 20% would be the most reasonable. Cholesterol is only in meat, fish, egg yolk, and dairy foods. Your body can make up to 1,000mg/day by the body cells as well. When you eat a lot of cholesterol-high foods your body will slow down on its own production. The current amount that is recommended is 300mg/day of cholesterol.
Just to note if you balance your diet with a lot of plant-based food as well, it will help with soluble fibers that lower blood cholesterol. It does this by forming a gel in your lower intestines and then it binds to and eliminates bile which contains cholesterol. That in itself is a good reason to eat your veggies.
Kinds of fat: Good vs. Bad
The kinds of fat that you will see on food labels will be trans-fat, saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fatty acids. (We’ll talk about Trans Fat later on.) Mostly these fats will be in a combination with higher percentages in one more than the other. One example is eggs, they have 43% in monounsaturated fat, 39% saturated, and18% polyunsaturated. Beef has 55% saturated, 40% monounsaturated, and 4% polyunsaturated.
Like any macro-nutrient, it is good to keep a balance of all things. Although, when your diet is higher in saturated fat it can lead to higher cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease, poor blood viscosity, breast cancer, kidney disease, and stroke.
Saturated fat tends to be solid at room temperature. Some examples of saturated fats are lauric, myristic, and palmitic acids. These can be found in beef, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, butter, cheese, milk, and palm oil. All of these can raise cholesterol levels.
One interesting note is that stearic acid (a kind of saturated fat), may actually lower LDL levels (bad cholesterol). Stearic acid can be found in cocoa butter and beef. For this reason, it is not considered completely unhealthy and shouldn’t be avoided altogether. Another thing to remember is that it is not just high saturated fat that makes health problems, it is when that is put into combination with other poor dietary choices.
Now for the good fat which is known as the “healthy fat”, or unsaturated fats. These fats are typically liquid at room temperature. This is where omega 3 and 6 (the polyunsaturated fats) come into play. As well as monounsaturated fats which are found in olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower and safflower oil, avocados, peanut butter, nuts, and animal fats (chicken, pork, and beef).
The basics about the omegas :
There are 3 different kinds of omegas, they make up polyunsaturated fats. There is omega 3, 6, and 9. Omega 9 is monounsaturated fat. Like anything, they should have a balance. It is recommended that they be a 1:1 ratio, but nowadays it is much too high in omega 6 and not enough on the omega 3. Omega 3 is found originally in fish which is strong in EPA and DHA, which is the most beneficial of the omega 3’s.
You can also find omega 3 (polyunsaturated) in foods such as flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans.
Foods high in omega 6 (polyunsaturated) would be corn oil, safflower oil, and meat from animals that eat a lot of corn.
Foods high in omega 9 (monounsaturated) would be olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower and safflower oil, avocados, peanut butter, nuts, and animal fats (chicken, pork, and beef).
A combination of all these omegas is important to keep. Most people tend to need a bit extra omega 3 due to allergies to fish and seafood, or just dislike. All in all, be sure to balance out your omegas.
A chart of good and bad fat sources
|Type||Saturated||Monounsaturated (Omega 9)||Polyunsaturated
|Sources||Beef, Coconut Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Butter, Cheese, Milk, Palm Oil||Olive Oil,
Canola Oil, Peanut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Avocados,
Peanut Butter, Nuts,
Animal fats from chicken, pork, and beef.
Meat from animals that eat alot of corn.
|Scientific Acid Names||Lauric, Myristic, and Palmtic Acids||Oleic Acid (OA)||Linoleic Acid (LA)
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)
Arachidonic acid (AA)
|Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
What is TransFat?
Trans fats are created by taking an unsaturated fat which is soft or liquid at room temperature and then adding bubbling hydrogen ions through it. This is the hydrogenated word you see on food labels. This means it hardens at room temperature. This is ultimately what makes it unhealthy it’s the process it goes through. On a molecular level, it changes the carbon bond which changes how it reacts in the body.
Basically, trans fat is when you take an unsaturated fat, add bubbling hydrogen ions, and now it turns into a solid at room temperature. Now it is saturated fat. This process makes it unhealthy in the long run. It began being produced in quantity because foods have a longer shelf life with them and people seemed to like the taste of it. So if you see hydrogenated or trans fat it’s the best bet that it is not good for you.
What’s the difference between HDL and LDL?
HDL is high-density lipoproteins. This is good cholesterol because it takes cholesterol from other parts of your body to your liver. From there your liver breaks it down for you. LDL is low-density lipoprotein. This is bad cholesterol because it gathers and hardens in your arteries and is one of the main causes of cardiovascular diseases. If you ever decide to get your blood tested and are not sure how to read the numbers. The important numbers to know are the total number of LDL and HDL. The total number of LDL should be lower than 100 mg/dL. The total number of HDL should be greater than 40 mg/dL. Also, the total number of all cholesterol should be 125 -200 mg/dL of both together.
All in all, it is good to balance your diet all around and to just keep an eye out for what your eating. Plant-based and whole food-based diets are the healthiest. This does not mean you must be vegan or vegetarian. This means to just make plants and whole foods the core of your diet.
Feel free to message me if you have any questions. Thanks for reading!