Facts about Fats
Fats have been given a bad reputation over the last few decades, especially as many low fat or non-fat diets have risen and fallen in prominence. One health and fitness researcher, Jonathan Bailor states, “Natural foods contain fats. Natural foods were the only thing our ancestors ate for 99.8% of our history… how could they harm us?” The reality is that some fats are good while others are not so good; our Fit.Church goal is to help you make the best choices available.
3 Reasons Fat Is Important
1. Fat is foundational:
fats help slow digestion which aids the stabilization of our blood sugar and even helps our body burn the fat we have stored. Fat is also a part of our basic cell structure and is essential for the body, especially for our brain, to function.
2. Fat allows vitamin absorption:
many vitamins are fat soluble which means to absorb needed micronutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K, our body has to have dietary fats. Without fat, the vitamins are not absorbed into our system, and just pass through. Without fat to aid digestion we would not be able to live.
3. Fat supports our hormonal system.
Healthy fats are converted into various substances and chemicals the body needs. Some of these chemicals are what we call hormones that are chemical messengers in our body.
3 Kinds of fats
1. Unsaturated Fats
Unsaturated fats come in two forms: poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated. While we won’t go into the details of what makes each different, suffice it say that the answer has to do with the chemistry behind the cells. Unsaturated fats are the good kinds of fats. They help satiate our appetite, reduce bad cholesterol and even help the body burn stored fat.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are an example of great polyunsaturated fats that help contribute to better brain function, protect against heart disease and help fight inflammation within the body.
Some examples of unsaturated fats are: nuts, olives, avocados, and olive or canola oils. Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids are: salmon (wild caught preferably), sturgeon, bluefish, herring, mackerel, lake trout, and tuna. When eating fish, be sure to be conscious of your mercury intake, which is higher in deep-water fish like swordfish or mackerel. Many dietitians encourage eating deep-water fish only once a week to minimize mercury in your body system.
2. Saturated Fats
Saturated fats are a complicated topic. Research has been conducted to address the tug-of-war over the question: are saturated fats good for you or bad for you? The answer is that it is complicated. Saturated fats include butter, milk, cheese, dairy, and animal fats. These fats are solid at room temperature and they melt when heated (such as in cooking). They are worth our attention, but we should be careful how much saturated fat we eat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to 13 grams or less a day.
Trans fats get their name because they have been chemically transformed from polyunsaturated fats to solid fats using a hydrogen process. These fats are completely man-made and are introduced into foods to stabilize the flavor or texture as well as extend shelf life. Any packaged product in a store that has a “hydrogenated” or “partially-hydrogenated” ingredient has trans fats and should be avoided.
Through many studies, trans fats have been connected to the highest risk to the heart as well as being a prime culprit for weight gain. Be wary: any food with less than .5 grams of trans fats in a single serving can claim to be “trans fat free” so reading the label is an absolute necessity to avoid these fats. Examples of trans fats are margarine and shortening, and are included in fast foods, fried foods, and many store bought pastries.
How Much Fat Should we Eat?
Fit.Church encourages allocating 25% of your daily calories for fats, and aiming for the majority to be unsaturated fats. For someone on an 1800-calorie weight loss plan, 25% would be about 50 grams of fats a day. For someone on a 1400-calorie weight loss plan, 25% would be about 39 grams.