Nearly every nutrition expert agrees that a moderate amount of fat consumption plays an important role in eating a healthy diet. It provides our bodies with energy, is essential for growth and development, and is necessary for absorbing vitamins.
What Is Fat?
Fat is a nutrient with important functions, such as:
- It’s a rich source of energy. In fact, fat produces more than double the energy acquired from carbohydrates or proteins.
- It’s a carrier for vitamins A, D, E and K.
- It provides linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid, essential polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- It contributes flavor and a sense of “fullness” when part of a healthy diet.
However, it’s important to know that there are good fats and bad fats.
Which are the good fats?
As part of eating a healthy diet, you need to consume moderate amounts of good fats. These good fats include:
- Monounsaturated Fat: This is the primary fat source found in olive oil. Unsaturated fat can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. In fact, due to its high concentration of monounsaturated fat, olive oil can actually help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. This is the main reason why olive oil is considered to be healthy for us.
- Polyunsaturated Fat: Found in nuts, fish, sunflower oil, corn oil and, of course, olive oil. Polyunsaturated fat helps to maintain heart health and lower blood cholesterol levels.
- Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fat: Found in fatty fishes like salmon or in vegetable oils, omega-3 polyunsaturated fat is truly brain food. It has been proven to promote mental acuity and brain development.
Which are the bad fats?
If you’re committed to eating a healthy diet, you should try to avoid the following fats:
- Saturated Fats: Found in lard, butter, hard cheeses, whole milk, animal fats, palm oil, and coconut oils. Saturated fats are known to raise blood cholesterol levels, increase the risk of heart disease, and contribute to other health problems. Nutritionists and dietitians strongly recommend that you avoid these fats as much as possible.
- Trans Fat: Typically found in meat, dairy products, margarine, and nearly any food containing the word “hydrogenated” on its label, trans fats can raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. More about cholesterol!
Fat and Olive Oil
Olive oil is widely known to be high in monounsaturated (good) fat. It contains zero trans (bad) fat and is lower in saturated (bad) fat than other commonly used ingredients such as shortening and butter. Simply put, olive oil is one of the best ways to add good fat to your diet and avoid bad fat.