Low fat, fat-free, zero trans fats, low saturated fat, 30% less fat… looking around your local supermarket food aisles might give you the impression that we should be avoiding fats like the plague. What you may not realize is that healthy fats are absolutely essential to healthy bodily function.
More than that, certain fats in your diet are actually good for you. Unsaturated fats for instance, like the types found in olive oil and avocados can actually lower blood cholesterol and work to protect you from heart disease.
Fats (also known as lipids as they pertain to body functions) are also concentrated storehouses of energy and water – which help keep the body energized and hydrated. The oils and nutrients contained in fat (some of which are powerful antioxidants) also help keep skin plump, smooth and youthful. So healthy fats is a good thing.
There are even certain vitamins and nutrients that are fat-soluble, which means the body absorbs them better in the presence of healthy fats or lipids. Vitamin A is one such vitamin (which means try carrots as part of a stir fry with sesame oil). Others include Vitamin E, K and D.
Problems start when people start over indulging in fat. For men between the ages of 20 and 65, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of healthy fats falls between 85 and 140 grams of fat per day. Men with sedentary jobs need less fat. Men that engage in hard physical labor need more.
The more of the total fat intake that comes from unsaturated sources the better it is for overall health and wellness. Simply look at the labels on foods you purchase or eat. The total fat content and amounts of saturated and unsaturated fat per serving will be listed on the packaging.
Not sure about healthy fats content at someplace like a restaurant – ask for a nutrition guide. Many restaurants can provide this information on request. There are also several apps that can give you a ballpark nutrition count on popular dishes. Alternatively, keep in mind that red meats and dairy products are higher in saturated fats than white meats, fish, fruits, vegetables and potatoes.
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