Fat is something we have painted as evil, and being “fat” is something that has been shamed time and time again. It has been the root cause of high cholesterol, heart disease, and obesity, so how could fat not be vilified the way it has been?
But the truth is that our bodies need fat, not just to function in all the ways it needs to, but we need it to survive. Plus, not all fats are made equal like most things nowadays. So there are definitely fats we want to avoid as much as possible, and fats we want to incorporate into our diet.
Dietary fats are essential to give your body energy and to support cell growth. They also protect your organs, help keep your body warm, help your body absorb nutrients, and produce important hormones.
Let’s Introduce Fat
Virtually all natural foods contain some fat. It is in foods because both plants and animals use fats as the most economical way to store energy. It is needed for their growth, development, and function when there is a shortage of food supply (or a shortage of sunlight in the case of plants).
Certain specific dietary fats have other essential functions. We are much like other animals so we do actually need some fat from our diet to survive. As with most things, too much fat is bad, but a certain amount is perfectly compatible with good health. Let’s focus on the benefits of fat, and make sure you’re not avoiding what could be good for your health.
Benefits of Fat
Fat is essential to brain health
Did you know that brain tissue is made up of nearly 60% fat? A diet low in fat actually robs your brain of the materials it needs to function properly.
It’s not just the essential fatty acids and omega 3’s that are making all the headlines. But also some of the saturated fats which we have been told for years to avoid, including natural animal fats.
Essential vitamins such as A, D, E and K are not water soluble and require fat to get transported and absorbed by the body. These vitamins are crucial for brain health and many of our vital organs.
Vitamin D is an important element in decreasing susceptibility to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, and other brain disorders. Omega-3 is said to sharpen your cognitive function as well as improve your mood.
Fat keeps your lungs working properly
Our lungs are coated with a substance composed almost entirely of saturated fat. Premature babies who are lacking this substance are given something called “surfactant” to keep their lungs functioning properly.
Without enough saturated fat, our lungs can be compromised. Some studies are now looking at the link between the low consumption of saturated fat and asthma as the reason.
Fat boosts your immune system
Dr. Michael and Dr. Mary Eades in their book Good Calories, Bad Calories write about the role that saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil play in immune health stating that the “loss of sufficient saturated fatty acids in the white blood cells hamper their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi”.
Fat keeps your largest organ healthy
Fat makes up the bulk of the cellular membrane and our skin is made up of a very large number of cells, making it our largest organ of the body. Without the proper consumption of fat, our skin can become dry and chapped. This opens up pathways for infection to enter our bodies.
Fat is good for your heart
Many studies have been done on the benefits of eating saturated fats, fats we have been told to avoid for the last 50 or so years. One study, in particular, focused on a population in the Pacific Isles who eat up to 60% of their diet in the form of saturated coconut oil and have shown practically no incident of heart disease.
Also, fat provides twice the caloric energy as carbs – 9 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram. So not only will it sustain your energy for a longer time but will also help you to eat less as it keeps the body satisfied.
But stay away from trans-fats, which are made by adding hydrogen atoms to saturated fat during the heating process. These manipulated fats do nothing but make bad foods last longer on the shelf.
So grab a handful of walnuts, enjoy a piece of salmon cooked up in some olive oil, and add a little coconut oil to your morning smoothie. Start shifting your diet today, and get those good fats back into your diet.
What kinds of foods with fat do you eat that’s good for your body?