6 reasons why fat is so essential to your diet
Fat is one of the main macronutrients that make up our diet – along with carbohydrates and protein, we need fat to perform essential bodily processes and maintain our overall health.
Many people think that eating fat will cause weight gain, or associate all dietary fat with unhealthy trans fats, but not all fats are created equal. Some fats actually promote good health, such as Linoleic acid (LA), Gamma linolenic acid (GLA), arachidonic acid (AA), alpha linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These are found in a variety of foods including meat, fish, nuts, seeds and fat-rich vegetables like olives and avocados.
Why are fats important in your diet?
Here are some of the important roles that fats play in our health and wellbeing:
- Providing a source of energy
- Manufacture and regulation of hormones
- Formation of cell membranes
- Transmission of nerve impulses that create muscle contractions
- Absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K
- Providing essential fatty acids linoleic acid (known as omega 6) and linolenic acid (omega 3)
Even when people are looking to lose excess body fat, it is recommended that they consume plenty of omega 3 rich fats like oily fish, flaxseeds and fish oil supplements to ensure the body is getting adequate levels of omega 3 essential fatty acids. This helps to lower levels of inflammation within the body and also can balance out high levels of omega 6 fats, too much of which can lead to cardiovascular issues. These essential omega 3 fats are also important for keeping cell membranes fluid, which helps to increase sensitivity to insulin which in turn can aid fat loss.
What foods contain healthy fats?
Naturally everyone’s individual dietary requirements will vary, but a good rule of thumb is to get 30% of dietary calories from healthy fat sources. For example, a 1500 daily calorie allowance would require 450 calories to come from fat sources, or 10g of fat per meal (assuming 3 main meals and 2 snacks per day). See the table below to find out more about different types of fats.
How to add healthy fats to meals
If you are struggling to find ways of adding healthy fats to your meals, try these:
- Sprinkle some pine nuts onto a prawn salad
- Add avocado to a chicken salad along with a drizzle of olive oil
- Add some walnuts to a stir fry with turkey, spinach and kale
Now that you know how important these fats are to your overall health, you can take steps to include this essential macronutrient in your diet.
- Healthy fats are essential for good health
- Fats should make up roughly 30% of your calorie intake
- Good fats come from fish, nuts, avocados, seeds and meats