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Fat and Your Health

Fat and Your Health

Why is Fat Important?

Fat is necessary in our diet in order to stay healthy. Dietary fat give you energy, help you feel more satisfied after you eat, and helps absorb fat soluble vitamins from foods, such as Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat also aids in insulating the body, helps maintain healthy skin, cushions vital organs and helps regulate hormones and cholesterol metabolism. Fat also help the body use carbohydrates and proteins in a more efficient manner.

Healthy Fat Choices

All fats are not created equal. Unsaturated fat is considered ‘healthy’ fat and saturated are ‘bad’ fat. Unsaturated fat include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Unsaturated fat is typically liquid at room temperature.

Monounsaturated fats help lower blood cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated fats are found mainly in olive and canola oils and foods containing these ingredients, and in nuts and avocados.

Polyunsaturated fats also help lower blood cholesterol levels. Two types of polyunsaturated fats include omega 3 and omega 6 and are very important for your health. Omega 3 fats are found in fish, flax seeds, walnuts, eggs and canola oil. Good sources of omega 6 fats are seeds, safflower, sunflower, corn, and soybean oils.

Saturated and Trans fat are considered ‘bad’ fat mainly because they can increase bad or LDL cholesterol levels and trans fat has also been shown to lower your good or HDL cholesterol. It is very important to eat less saturated and trans fat. Saturated fat is mostly found in animal products and products with high amounts of dairy fat like butter, cheese and cream. Trans fat is found mostly in products containing hydrogenated vegetable oils. Trans fat is also naturally found in animal products and some dairy products. Saturated and trans fat are typically solid at room temperature.

Fat and Your Health

How Much Fat Do I Need?

The amount of fat a person needs depends on age, sex, body size and composition, activity level, family history and health status. It is recommended to reduce the amount of fat in your diet, especially saturated and trans fat. It is recommended to choose more unsaturated fat and consume omega 3 fat.

The recommended dietary guidelines suggest 20 to 30% of your total energy should come from fat, with less than 10% of energy coming from saturated fat, and less than 1% coming from trans fat.

It is important to include fat in your diet, but you’ll want to choose the right amount and the right kind of fat. If you’re getting most of your fat from lean meats, fish, and heart-healthy oils, you’ve already made fat your friend!

Ref: Health Canada website, 2007.