Fats that are found in foods seem to have a bad reputation. Walk through the aisles of any grocery store aisle, and you’ll see packaging boasting that the product inside is “fat free,” “98 percent fat free,” or something similar. Marketers know that people often make a special effort to avoid fats.
Although there are some exceptions, the items that are reduced fat or fat-free usually don’t taste as good as their original counterparts. Keep reading to learn why you shouldn’t think of fats as things to completely eliminate from your diet and why you might want to steer clear of those fat-free items altogether.
Fat Usually Contributes To Good Taste
If you take a moment to think about some of your favorite foods, there is a decent chance that they’re fatty, greasy or both. That’s because fats are often what was used to make cuisine so pleasing to the taste buds.
With that in mind, it’s important to realize that foods which have a lower-than-normal fat content or are free from fats altogether may not be as healthy as the label leads you to believe. The next time you’re on a shopping trip, take a look at the label for a food that’s fat-free.
You’ll probably see that the ingredient label is littered with starches, sugars and other things that are taking the place of fats to make the product taste better.
Fats Have Benefits
When we don’t get enough fats in our diets, we often feel hungry all the time and might not feel very energized. From a dietary perspective, fats help with the absorption of vitamins and nutrients in the foods we eat, so we’re able to benefit from the full nutritional value. Fats also help keep the body warm, and aid in cell growth.
Unsaturated Fats Are Healthy
It’s a good idea to make sure your diet contains foods with unsaturated fats. They’re usually found in nature within things like seeds, nuts and fish. Unsaturated fat promotes a healthy heart and balances your cholesterol levels.
There are two types of unsaturated fats: polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats may also be called omega 6 and omega 3. Your body needs these fats because they act as a safeguard against heart disease, keep your immune system working well, prevent the growth of tumors and reduce triglyceride levels.
Get your fill of omega 3 by chowing down on fish, including tuna and sardines, and find foods that contain flaxseeds. On the other hand, you can boost your intake of omega 6 by making sure to consume sesame and sunflower oils, nuts and beans.
Monounsaturated fats are beneficial because, like polyunsaturated fats, they improve a person’s triglyceride levels. These fats may also reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels and improve glucose levels.
Make sure you’re getting enough monounsaturated fats with foods like hazelnuts and macadamia nuts and olive oil. If you look closely at the labels of some of your favorite salad dressings and snacks, you’ll probably find they have large amounts of monounsaturated fats, so you may already be consuming more than you realize.
The Bad Kinds Of Fats
Trans fats, or trans fatty acid, are one type of fat that is indeed harmful, so your consumption of it should be limited. Trans fats are found in a lot of processed foods and fast food products. They are unhealthy for you, and specifically, can contribute to obesity and raise your cholesterol levels.
Several years ago, scientists became aware of just how unhealthy trans fats are, and that caused many food manufacturers to work hard to find healthier alternatives. Therefore, trans fats are not as common as they once were, but you still need to be careful to avoid them.
Saturated fats are also not healthy for you. They’re commonly found in dairy products, animal fats and palm oil. Like trans fats, saturated fats can cause cholesterol levels to climb. It’s very difficult to eliminate saturated fats from your diet, but one simple step to take is to choose fat-free milk at the grocery store. That’s one example of how choosing a fat-free item can be worthwhile.
So, as you can see, the truth is, not all fats are bad for you, and if you’ve been considering going on a fat-free diet, that’s probably not a good idea. Fats are necessary for your body to function properly, but if you’re concerned you aren’t getting enough of the right ones, a nutritionist can give some guidance.