Sometimes people tell me that they have cut out all fats from their diet. They think that’s a good thing, but it’s not. We need some fats and oils in our diet. In addition to being a great source of energy, fats transport vitamins A, D, E and K and are required for hormone production. Fats also support brain, skin and nerves function. Instead of banning this dietary staple from your body, learn more about it. When you know the truth about fats, you can better use them to keep your body operating at its best.
What is fat? What kinds of fats are there?
Fats, along with proteins and carbohydrates, are one of the three macronutrient are bodies require. There are basically two types of fats: saturated or unsaturated. The terms polyunsaturated and monounsaturated indicate the degree on unsaturation. Every oil or fat is comprised of these two basic types.
Good news about fats:
Contrary to what some people believe, there are ‘better-for-us fats’. Olive oil, a mainly unsaturated fat, is good for us. Malaysian sustainable palm oil, a non-GMO, plant-based oil with almost equal amounts of saturated and unsaturated fats, is also good for us.
We’ve also learned that the association between saturated fat consumption and heart disease risk – what fueled the low/no-fat craze to begin with – is questionable. We were making suggestions based upon old data that was limited to the science of the time, and is now outdated based upon newer analyses, lab tests, biomarkers and longitudinal studies that are available. Even with this information, when consuming fats we should be still be mindful and choose wisely.
Bad news about fats:
Not every fat is designed for every purpose. Most oils oxidize over time and their flavor and aroma turn rancid. Olive oil’s goodness breaks down at high heat. A better option is Malaysian sustainable palm oil. The natural composition of this oil makes it more heat stable. It also prevents oxidation ensuring a long shelf life which is why it’s used in many quality food products.
The ugly news about fats:
There is one kind of fat you should be avoiding: trans fat. This is the by-product of an industrial process which food formulators use to make an unsaturated fat act more like a saturated fat. Studies show that consuming trans fat does increase our risk of heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says reducing trans fat consumption could prevent up to 20,000 heart attacks each year. Many companies are replacing their chemically altered oils with naturally trans fat-free Malaysian palm oil. When shopping, look for products that list palm oil instead of partially hydrogenated oils on their label.
Dr. Felicia D. Stoler is a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and expert consultant in nutrition and healthful living. She was the host for the reality show, Honey We’re Killing the Kids on TLC. She is the author of Living Skinny in Fat Genes™: The Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great (Pegasus 2011). She specializes in integrating behavior modification to influence positive health outcomes. Stoler is the published author of numerous articles on nutrition, exercise, health and wellness.