We’re often taught that all fats are bad for you and that we should avoid consuming them therefore giving them a bad reputation. However our bodies require some fat for energy, hormonal functioning, and to absorb nutrients. There are a few types of fat and it’s important to understand the distinction between them to meet your basic nutritional needs and sustain optimal functioning.
Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats
Foods that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help control weight, manage moods, and increase energy levels. Healthy fats provide essential fatty acids, which are needed to create new cells and produce hormones for physiological functions.
Monounsaturated fats are found mostly in high-fat fruits such as avocados as well as nuts like pistachios, walnuts, cashews, and almonds. This type of fat can also be found in olive oil. Monounsaturated fats help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. They’ve also been shown to help battle weight gain and reduce body fat levels.
Like monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats help fight bad cholesterol. These fats come in the forms of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and they lower triglycerides. Omega-3s and 6s are important and are oftentimes referred to as essential fatty acids (EFAs). These cannot be manufactured by our bodies so it is essential to ingest them. And because your body needs these sources to function optimally and remain healthy; it’s your job to make sure your diet has enough of these fats to avoid problems and breakdown.
You can find these fats in the following foods:
Monounsaturated fats can be found in:
- Olive, canola, peanut, and sesame oils
- OlivesNuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia, hazelnut, pecans, and cashews)
Polyunsaturated fats can be found in:
- Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, and sardines)
- Fish oil
- Soybean oil
Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fats that are fatty acids that assist in essential functions of the body such as:
Omega-3 fatty acids:
- Reduce triglycerides in the blood
- Reduce the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat
- Lower the buildup of plaque
- Lower your blood pressure
- Ease arthritis, joint pain, and inflammatory skin conditions
Omega-6 fatty acids:
- Control blood sugar levels
- Reduce your blood pressure
- Lower your risk for diabetes
Trans and Saturated Fats
The types of fats to avoid are known as trans and saturated fats, especially the artificial versions of these. Trans fats are the worst fats to consume. They’re found in foods such as french fries, potato chips, and most fried foods. Trans fat is the result of over processing our foods in order to offer consumers a longer shelf life. Most pre-packaged food contains a fair share of trans fats. If you are serious about improving your overall health, trying to lose weight or achieve your optimal athletic potential you should try to avoid trans fats altogether.
Saturated fat can be healthful only when consumed in moderation. They are commonly found in red meat, whole milk, dark chocolate, cheese and coconut oil. It's important to limit the consumption of saturated fats because they can increase total cholesterol which may result in blocked arteries in the heart and elsewhere in the body.
Fat plays an important role in helping the general functioning of your body. It’s a necessary component of your diet and chances are you’re not consuming enough of the good fats in your diet. Understanding the different fats and their nutritional profiles will help you make educated decisions when food shopping.
Make sure to read labels before buying food. Kate’s Real Food strives to provide healthy fats in our delicious organic energy bars to help get you through any sort of adventure. Gain the energy you need for a day on the slopes or the trail with one of our wonderful flavors of bars.