The Importance of Dietary Fats

Everything we eat is composed of different nutrients and chemicals, and we need all of them to function properly. Some of those nutrients and chemicals are fat, and the amount of fat we need depends on our age and activity level. The average American diet is filled with unhealthy foods that can lead to weight gain, heart disease, and even death. But several types of fat are important for healthy living, and no diet can be complete without them.

We get plenty of flack about the foods we eat. We get told to eat less fat, more carbs, get off of high-fructose corn syrup, eat organic, no GMOs, etc. So why are fats important? Actually, there are many reasons that fats are important. Fats are an essential nutrient for all humans. They are the major source of energy for our cells, help our brain function, regulate our hormones, regulate our immune system, and help build and maintain our cells, tissues, and organs.

The average American consumes about 1,500 calories per day. Of that, roughly 300 calories come from fat. Most of that is saturated fat; it’s not that high in fat, but it is high in calories. The big problem is that saturated fat is not good for you. It keeps you from losing weight and keeps you from losing fat, which is what you want.

Dietary fat is the most misunderstood and vilified food. Despite what you’ve heard, dietary fat is not the same as saturated fat, and nor is it the same as trans-fat. Not only that, but fat plays a vital role in our health and metabolism — it keeps us satiated and satisfied and helps us absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Fat also plays a key role in brain and nervous system function. More than half of our brain is made up of fat, and fat is the key to keeping the brain protected and functioning optimally.

You may be surprised to discover that dietary fats aren’t just for fried foods and butter. In fact, the body uses these dietary fats (and fat-containing foods like nuts and seeds) to create and store energy. Generally, dietary fats provide nine calories per gram—more than carbohydrates and protein. They also provide more calories per fat gram than carbs or protein.

Dietary fats are one of the three macronutrients (i.e., proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) that are vital to the human diet. It is important to know that our bodies cannot create fat. Therefore, dietary fat needs to come from our food intake. However, it is the type of fat that is most critical to our health, and it is important to know what forms of dietary fats there are and what they mean to our health.

Some of the most important nutrients in our diet are fats, and they are the most likely nutrient to be deficient in most people. This is not surprising, given that fats are one of the most energy-dense, calorie-dense foods.  One of the reasons fat is important is that it may be the only thing that can replace saturated fat in our diet. When our bodies don’t get enough fat, they start to burn glucose for energy, which is less efficient at burning calories. The result is the risk of weight gain due to being in a state of negative energy balance.

Without enough fat, your body can’t produce enough energy, retain your body heat, or fight off infection. And the wrong kind of fat is even more dangerous than an overabundance of fat. Most people are aware of the calorie-rich foods that provide the majority of their fat intakes, such as meats, cheeses, oils, and nuts. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, then you should know how to get dietary fats.

Determining the proper amount of dietary fat to consume can be confusing since it involves balancing the benefits of fat and the drawbacks of saturated fat. Dietary fat is a macronutrient (a type of food that provides 4kcal and more per gram and contains at least 3kcal per gram) needed for proper human nutrition and metabolism. It is also a source of energy and several other substances, such as vitamins and minerals. There are three categories of dietary fat: saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat. The upper limit of saturated fat intake is 10% of total calories, with most dietary guidelines recommending that saturated fat be limited to no more than 7% of total calories.

 

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