There may be some people who consider any fat in their diet to be “too much fat.”
The truth is, however, according to Harvard Health, that some fat is actually essential to our diet.
Not only are fats an essential source of energy for our bodies but they also play an active role in the absorption of vitamins and minerals. (https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good).
People often underestimate the importance of fat in our bodies as it actually helps us in a number of ways such as:
- Building cell membranes
- Blood clotting
- Muscle movement
- Reducing inflammation
According to the Mayo Clinic, unsaturated fats are the best types of fat to have in our diets.
These fats tend to remain liquid at room temperature.
Unsaturated fats are actually thought to help improve problems such as high cholesterol and decrease our risks of heart attack and stroke. (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fat/art-20045550).
A particularly favoured unsaturated fat is known as Omega-3 fatty acid.
This fat has shown the ability to boost heart health,
reduce the risk of blood clots and lower blood pressure.
It is a polyunsaturated fat commonly found in oily fish. Other foods rich in good fats include.
- Seeds such as sunflower, sesame and pumpkin
- Nuts such as walnuts, cashews and peanuts
- Vegetable oils such as olive and canola
- Animal fats such as chicken, beef and pork (There are also bad fats in these products as well)
The fats we generally consider bad are those known as saturated fats.
Unlike unsaturated fats, these tend to be solid at room temperature.
According to the Mayo Clinic, we should get less than 10% of our daily energy from these types of fats.
The reason for this is that saturated fats actually raise our cholesterol levels which puts us at a greater risk for heart disease and strokes.
The majority of fat found in red meat tends to be saturated fat meaning that lean meats are preferable for a healthy diet.
Another source of these bad fats is dairy products such as full-fat milk, cheese and egg yolks.
Fried foods are also often high in saturated fats which means that for a healthy diet they should be an occasional treat.
How Much Is Too Much Fat
According to the Cleveland Clinic, a healthy diet should see no more than 20-35% of a person’s daily calories coming from fat.
This equates to between 44-77 grams of fat per day based on a 2000-calorie diet. (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11208-fat-what-you-need-to-know).
The suggested fats are polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats while saturated fats should be eaten only in moderation.
It is also suggested that so-called trans fats be avoided completely.
If you are eating more than 77 grams per day and live a generally sedate lifestyle you should seriously consider cutting back your intake.
The Best Sources of Dietary Fat
According to Healthline, there are a number of high-fat foods that have the perfect types of healthy fats.
- Avocados: Unlike most fruits low in carbs but high in healthy fats
- Cheese: It’s good in moderation and also offers additional vitamins and minerals
- Dark Chocolate: It has decent fat content but also has helpful antioxidants, fibre and essential minerals
- Fatty Fish: Rich in that beneficial Omega-3 fatty acid
- Nuts: High in fibre and rich in unsaturated fats
Just like all good things in life, fat is something to be taken in moderation.
It is an essential building block for our cells but can also be detrimental to our health in excess.
Monitor the type and amount of fat in your diet to avoid gaining weight or developing problematic medical conditions.