Welcome to my Macronutrient series! If you don’t already know, macronutrients are required by the body and make up the majority of your diet. They include fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. 

Today I’m talking about fats, and specifically, healthy fats and how you can incorporate them into healthy eating.

I’m sure you’ve seen over the years that fats have been embraced and then vilified. Some say saturated fat is bad for you, and some say it’s fine and what the caveman used to eat. The truth is that fat doesn’t make you fat, but it’s important to balance the types of fats that you eat.

Today I’m going to explain the different types of fats, where they come from, and what I recommend as most healthy. So, what are dietary sources of fats?

Saturated fat is usually found in animal proteins, including dairy products. It’s solid at room temperature but becomes liquid when warmed. This type of fat is also found in some plant foods such as coconut (think about coconut oil – solid at room temperature but melts easily). There is still no solid consensus on its impact on health, but it has been correlated with heart disease in some studies and not in others.

Unsaturated fat is liquid at room temperature. Fats and oils such as olive oil is an example of unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fats are associated with lower inflammation in the body, so it is important to include these healthy fats in your healthy eating plan.

Mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats are types of unsaturated fats. They primarily come from veggie-type fruits (such as avocado or pumpkin), vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats and they are essential to health. You need them, but in limited amounts. You’ll find them in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also essential polyunsaturated fats and are an important part of healthy eating. Certain types of fish, like the fatty kind, and some seeds are good sources of omega-3s.

Trans-fats are the bad boys! They are hydrogenated to make them shelf-stable, and they are bad for your health in a number of ways. Trans-fats were banned in the U.S. by the FDA a few years ago, but it’s taking a few years to implement, so we are no longer seeing as many products containing them.

Okay, so now you know your fats, how much should you eat, what should you eat, and what should you avoid?

Total fat intake should be about 30% of the daily calories in your diet for a healthy adult. There are instances where you might want to go lower or higher, but that is the general recommendation.

Healthy fats to eat:

  • Unsaturated fats, including both mono- and poly-unsaturated:
    • Olive oil
    • Avocados
  • Omega-3 fats:
    • Salmon
    • Flaxseeds/flaxmeal
    • Chia seeds

Fats to avoid:

  • Definitely avoid trans-fats, period.
  • Keep your saturated fat to a minimum of 10% of your calories per day, and choose plant-based saturated fats over animal fats. 
  • Also try to keep your omega-6 intake low. It’s very easy to overeat this type of fat because it’s in so many things such as vegetable oils and nuts.

If you have any questions about incorporating healthy fats into your diet, I’d be happy to consult with you. Drop me a line at Rene@SunnyLifeWellness and let’s set up a time to chat!

(Source: Institute for Functional Medicine)

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