All About Fats: Why You Need Them In Your Diet
Getting the right amount of the right fats in our diets is important to our health. A dietitian provides guidance on how much you need and where to find the good fats.
So you’ve always looked for low-fat and non-fat options at the grocery store ― especially when you’re on a diet. It turns out this really isn’t the best way to lose weight. In this Q&A, dietitian Lindsay Malone, MS, RD, LD, gives the straight scoop about fats.
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A: Fats play a vital role in your nutrition and health by:
A: Healthy fats are found in whole/unprocessed plant foods like avocados, coconuts, nuts and seeds (including nut and seed butters) as well as animal foods, including meat, poultry, fish and dairy. Oils that are minimally processed can be a healthy source of fat as well, and whole grains such as brown rice, wheat and oatmeal have small amounts of healthy fat too.
A: Look for those unprocessed foods that are whole ― or refined as little as possible. This includes:
A: Everyone is different, but getting around 30% of your calories from fats is a good place for most people. Fat should be eaten with every meal. As noted, it provides that feeling of fullness, transports your vitamins and also lowers the glycemic impact of the meal ― this means it reduces the impact on blood sugar.
For a woman, a day’s worth of fat intake might look like this:
A: Here are some ideas:
A: Note that oils suitable for cooking at both high and low temps include extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, rice bran and sesame oils. It is better not to cook with almond, flax, pumpkin, safflower and sunflower oils as these are healthier eaten at room temperature.
A: Fats do have more calories than carbohydrates and proteins. Every gram of fat has nine calories, which makes them more energy dense. Carbohydrates and proteins have four calories per gram. So get your fats, but manage caloric intake. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are the healthiest.
A: It’s important to avoid trans fats altogether, which raise LDL, the bad cholesterol, in your blood. These are often found in processed foods, including bakery, snack foods and fast foods. If the packaging says partially hydrogenated oil, it has trans fat.