Long-term health studies consistently show that the percentage breakdown of your macronutrients has little bearing on your long-term health. What does have a significant impact on your health is the quality of your macronutrients, so let’s talk a little about fats.
Including healthy fats in your diet helps your body to properly absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, K, and E), promotes heart health and weight balance, and supports brain development. In other words… We need healthy fats to reach optimum health!
There are three basic types of fat: unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats.
Trans fats increase your risk of heart disease and inflammatory disease. They should be completely avoided. When you read labels, any time you see “partially hydrogenated”, don’t buy it! Partially hydrogenated indicates the presence of trans fats.
Saturated fats can be found in animal-based food and tropical oils. Saturdated fats aren’t inherently bad for you, but shouldn’t be eaten excessively either. They should be limited to around ten percent of your total caloric intake.
So what are healthy fats? Unsaturated fats, which have two categories: monounsaturated (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated (PUFAs).
Your MUFAs help support HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Vegetable oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds are all good sources of MUFAs.
PUFAs include Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and are essential to our diets. Omega-3s support heart health and help to reduce inflammation and cancer risk. Omega-3s have also been shown to reduce symptoms of depression.
Most Americans get more than enough Omega-6 fatty acids, but not nearly enough Omega-3 fatty acids. Corn oil, nuts, seeds, and soy all have Omega-6s. Fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, canola oil, chia seeds, and eggs all contain Omega-3s.
A note about oils… When raised to high temperatures, oils breakdown and create free radicals that contribute to heart disease and aging. If you’re cooking with oil watch the heat. If you’re getting into higher heats, choose avocado oil which breaks down at a much higher temperature than other oils. Even with avocado oil, avoid cooking at high heat. (Yes, that means limit the fried foods! Sorry!)
I hope this overview gives you an idea of how you can improve the fats in your diet. If not, feel free to reach out to me for more information. As with most things in your diet, ditching the processed foods and choosing more whole foods will inevitably improve the quality of your fats.