The 4 Major Dietary Fats
Learn How Dietary Fats Can Support Your Body
Let’s clear up some confusion around dietary fats.
Some studies say to limit your fat, while others encourage you to increase your fat. In my nutrition practice, fat ratios depend on individual needs. Certain individuals may need to increase or decrease their weight and body fat, while others need to work towards improving their lipid panel.
One thing that is important across the board is to understand the main types of fat and how they support your body. Working with a nutritionist like myself can help you to hone in on the amount of fat that works best for your body. In the meantime, let’s start learning!
Dietary fats are essential to provide your body with energy.
- Provide a longer, slower burning source of energy for your body. Basically, they keep you fuller longer.
- Are the building blocks for cell membranes and hormones.
- Support your blood sugar and blood pressure.
- Protect your organs and help keep your body warm.
- Assist in the nutrient absorption of A, D, E, and K and the proper use of proteins.
- Are natural beauty boosters and maintain healthy skin, hair. and nails.
The terms grass-fed, free-range, and pasture-raised are often used interchangeably. If you consume animal products you will want to ensure that they are grass-fed. Grass-fed products promote heart health by increasing HDL levels and carrying away the plaque from the arteries. Grain-fed products decrease heart health by increasing LDL levels, which can carry plaque into our arteries.
Keep in mind that fat is nine calories per gram, whereas carbohydrates and protein are four calories per gram. So a little bit of heart-healthy fats in your diet will go a long way calorically.
The Four Main Types Of Dietary Fat
1.) Saturated fat – The preferred fuel of the heart
Saturated fat is the preferred fuel of the heart, however, it is important to choose heart-healthy sources.
Unrefined coconut oil, MCT oil, free-range eggs, pasture butter, Ghee (clarified butter), and dark chocolate. With dark chocolate the higher the percentage cocoa the better. I love my dark chocolate frozen and have a square or two most nights after dinner. Yum!
Limit and/or Avoid
Refined vegetable oils, processed grain-fed meat and dairy products, and fried foods
2.) Monounsaturated Fats – MUFA’S enhance weight loss
Have been shown to raise the level of HDL, the ‘good’ cholesterol that protects against heart attacks, in the blood. MUFA’s have been shown to enhance weight loss, which is a double bonus!
Extra virgin olive oil, olives, sesame oil, avocados, poultry, sesame seeds, almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans, cashews
Limit and/or Avoid
Canola oil, peanuts, and peanut oils
3.) Polyunsaturated Fats – Essential fatty acid’s or EFA’s
EFA’s are fatty acids that cannot be made by the body and must be supplied through our diet. They can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. EFA’s are vital for healthy skin, hair, and nails. They are key structural components of cell walls that ensure the flexibility of cells, which gives our skin its smoothness and suppleness.
Preferred Sources – Omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid) anti-inflammatory, raises HDL
Flaxseed, walnuts, hemp, free-range eggs, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds and deep-sea fish such as salmon, mackerel, herrings and sardines (EPA and DHA fatty acids).
Limit and/or avoid – Omega 6 (linoleic acid) – pro-inflammatory, raises LDL
Sunflower, safflower, corn, soybean, primrose, and black currant oil.
In North America the intake ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is believed to be at least 10:1, the ideal ratio is 1:3.
4.) Trans Fat – Avoid
Trans fats promote weight gain, and compromise hormone and immune function, metabolism, tissue repair, cell damage, and raises LDL. You can find trans fats in many baked and processed foods and labeled as Partially Hydrogenated or Hydrogenated soy, corn, canola, and cottonseed oils. Thankfully these are banned in American now and will no longer be in food past mid-2021.
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