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A fat, like protein and carbohydrates is a macronutrient and we all need macronutrients for normal body functions without them we could not survive. Fats give us energy and allow for the transport of other nutrients in order for them to do their job efficiently. A fat contains 9 calories per gram. If your favorite treat has 10 grams of fat then 90 calories of the total calories are from fat.
While our bodies don’t require large amounts of fat daily, you do need the right quality in the proper amounts in order to keep your skin, hair, nails, brain, heart and joints functioning properly. According the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, an average adult should consume anywhere between 20%-35% of fat from total daily calories. Reading labels and knowing exactly what you’re putting into your body can easily accomplish this.
Saturated fat: This means the fat molecule is covered completely or “saturated” with hydrogen atoms. This is dangerous because they form regular sticky shapes that clump together in your blood stream and cause blockages over time. Making it extremely hard for your heart to pump blood efficiently throughout your body. Animal proteins, egg yolks, high fat dairy products, processed foods all contain saturated fats.
Unsaturated Fats: Mono and Polyunsaturated fats. These are the opposite of saturated fats, meaning the molecule is not saturated with hydrogen atoms. They form irregular shapes that pass freely throughout the blood stream and don’t have a sticky surface. Some of your more common unsat fats are, olives, nuts, avocado, oily fish, sunflower, grapeseed and safflower oils. These are the fats you should incorporate into your diet more and less of the processed sat fats listed above.
Trans Fats: A trans fat is also known as a partially hydrogenated fat. They do not occur naturally but are synthetically made. Food companies love trans fats because they extend the shelf life of processed foods, cakes, cookies, bread, crackers, fast food, doughnuts and the list goes on and on. Trans fats ARE NOT essential for human survival but they will raise your cholesterol levels when consumed daily or as a part of your regular caloric intake. Trans fats have been shown to raise the risk of coronary heart disease among other highly dangerous diseases according to the American Medical Association. These are the fats to avoid. Please read your food labels carefully.
You don’t want to heat polyunsaturated oils, olive, canola, corn and soy to name a few. Why you ask? Because when you heat these oils they become “oxidized” or “rancid”. Meaning their molecular structure changes and they release “oxidized cholesterol”. This simply means that you convert your good cholesterol into bad cholesterol. Over time this can lead to heart and/or vascular disease. A good oil to cook with that can withstand the heat is coconut oil. Yes, coconut oil is a saturated fat but it has been shown to have health benefits. When purchasing coconut oil be sure to purchase one that is organic and GMO free.
In summary, the proper type of fats, unsaturated and coconut oil play an important role within your body for daily health and nutrition. Make an effort to read labels and understand exactly you’re putting into your body. Add in proper daily exercise and your body will reward you with a long healthy life.
On an average 2000 calorie diet with 20-35 percent fat content here’s the breakout with some samples of fats that you might include in your diet:
Formula: 2000 calories multiplied by .20 gives you 400 calories coming from fat. To find the number of total fat grams divide 400 calories by 9. You get 44 grams of total fat for the day.
Using 35 percent, compute the same formula and you arrive at 78 grams of total fat for the day.
So, listed below are some good fats you should consume and how many daily fat grams they give you.
Just remember to be mindful of foods you may eat daily that will also add fat to your daily totals.