For years, everyone in the fitness community has falsely assumed that anything with the word “fat” attached to it shouldn’t be eaten, but fat is a necessary part of our diet and we would die without it. Science has changed its opinion of many fats over the years. There are distinctions between fats. They are not all created equally, so let’s break it down!
All fats provide fatty acids for our blood, energy for our bodies, and keep our skin soft, but certain fats are typically thicker and are not broken down by our bodies as well. The fats that we all think of as tasting so delicious are generally saturated–that is, they have single bonds of hydrogen between their glycerol molecules. They’re easy to identify as well, being solid at room temperature.
Unsaturated fats are generally healthier than saturated fats and can combat cardiac disease by lowering LDL in the blood. The American Heart Association recommends a combination of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to keep HDL elevated while lowering LDL. Unsaturated fats are easy to spot because they have a lower viscosity at room temperature; they are fluid at room temperature. Good examples of unsaturated fats are olive and avocado oil. Many think that coconut oil is healthy to consume, but according to the AHA, it is best used topically as it is saturated and is hard on the heart. Unsaturated fats can even promote weight loss as they provide fuel for the body that can help power through that workout!
Fat is an important and completely necessary part of a healthy diet. It has irreplaceable benefits in the body and we simply cannot survive without it, but too much of anything is bad, of course. As with everything in life, moderation is key. Educate yourself about your diet and you can enjoy this delicious part of a diet without feeling bad about it!