For a great many years fat has been labelled as “bad” and something we should stay away from. But with time comes wisdom, and we are now beginning to understand the importance of fat in our diets.
Dietary fat is necessary for energy storage, insulation, healthy cell membranes, absorption of fat soluble vitamins and protection of the nervous system. But it is crucial to remember that not all fats are created equal, and that one gram of fat has 9 calories, whereas, one gram of protein or carbohydrate contains only 4 calories.
There are a few essential facts that everyone should keep in mind when thinking about fats and oils.
Essential facts about fat
- The only fats that we need to eat to live are omega 3 fatty acids, from flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts and the like; and omega 6 fatty acids found in fish, lean meats, eggs and dairy. To be certain that the quality of your omega 6 fatty acids is high, choose local or organic. The body cannot produce these essential fats on its own, so it becomes necessary to derive them from food or supplements.
- Ensuring the acquisition of essential fats from the diet is important, but a balanced approach is also needed. Optimal health depends largely on the balance between omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, as a deficiency in one can create problems such as memory loss and fertility problems.
- Fat-free diets are a NO-NO! Essential fatty acids are needed to nourish the brain and nervous system. When we remove the fat from our diets we deprive our bodies and brains from the nourishment they need.
- For those who are attempting to lose weight, fat can help – yes, you read that correctly! Weight management is largely supported by omega 3 (largely) and omega 6 (slightly) fatty acids, which reduce fat production, increase fat burning and heat production, and shift the body from burning glucose to burning fat. It’s all about the right fats!
- Other than food sources such as fish, nuts and seeds, oils are great sources of essential fats. The best oils are the least refined, pressed at low heat without exposure to light or air, and must be refrigerated. And remember that hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils are harmful to health and should be avoided at ALL times.
So you see fat is not the enemy, but in fact our friend. By choosing the right fats we can support weight loss, memory function and many other body processes!