For years, fat-free foods were all the rage. Fats were demonized for weight gain, high-cholesterol and heart disease. However, more and more research has been coming out that boosts the benefits of fats for your overall health.
Foods that are naturally fat-free won’t do any harm, and can actually be part of a very healthy diet (think fruits, veggies and whole grains). However, when we consistently reach for foods that have modified to be “fat-free”, we may be doing ourselves a disservice.
Here are 6 reasons we need to include fats in our diet everyday:
1. You need fats for proper hormone production
Cholesterol is the precursor to our 5 major steroid hormone groups. I’ll give you a second to wipe up the coffee you probably just spit out in surprise while reading that.
Think of our hormones as the master communicators in our body, signalling our cells to take action and include everything from weight management to reproduction. Without adequate amounts of cholesterol, we may have hormone fluctuations which can lead to fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain (yes, I said gain), and low libido, among many other things.
2. Fats are essential for nutrient absorption
Vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as minerals like calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc are all fat-soluble. This means, they require some type of fat to be absorbed by our our bodies.
3. Low-fat usually means high-sugar
Next time you pick up a “low-fat” alternative, I’d like you to compare the carbohydrate count to it’s higher-fat alternative. Many low-fat yogurts and salad dressings add sugar to make the yogurt taste better.
As well, when we cut out high-fat foods and snack like nuts, avocados, oils, we may reach for higher sugar substitutes like “low-fat” granola bars or cereals. Ultimately, these high-sugar alternatives can lead to more health risks.
4. Fats promote satiety
Fats can help us to feel more satisfied after and in-between meals. Fats slow down digestion, meaning we don’t burn through what we just ate as quickly. This can help to reduce between-meal snacks and the peckish feeling we get after lunch.
If you’re craving something sweet mid-afternoon, try out ½ of an avocado with some salt and see if that helps to curb your craving.
5. Our brains need fat to function
Our brain is made up of 60% fat! Most of this is from the Omega-3 fatty acid, DHA (1), which many of us are deficient in - look at a good quality fish oil supplement to help with this.
6. Remember: the quality of fat matters
Which fats you choose are just as important in ensuring they are a part of your diet. Fats that are rich in Omega-3 can help reduce inflammation, while monounsaturated fats can help to reduce our “bad” cholesterol.
Here are a few to add to your diet:
- Olive oil
- Wild-caught fatty fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel
- Nuts & seeds
- Grass fed and pasture-raised meats
Generally, focusing on a diet that promotes whole foods like vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates, quality protein and naturally occurring fats, as well as avoiding processed foods is a good way to optimize your overall health!
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