With all the talk of following a low-fat diet, it may surprise you to know that fat is essential to maintaining good health. Your body needs fat to perform critical functions. And without enough fat in your diet, your health can suffer. Here’s why a diet rich in healthy fats is so important.
Fat Gives You Energy. The fat in your diet provides the energy your body needs to perform its daily functions. Each gram of fat provides nine calories of energy for the body. In comparison, you get four calories of energy per gram of carbohydrates and proteins. The body also uses fat cells to store energy future use.
Fat Supports Your Brain. Your brain is made up of about 60 percent fat and it needs fat to function properly. Fat provides the building blocks of your brain’s cell membranes and is also a vital component of myelin, the protective sheath that that covers communicating neurons. In fact, myelin is composed 70% fat.
Fat Cushions Your Organs. Fat surrounds many of your vital organs like the liver, kidneys and heart. This layer of fat helps protect and cushion those organs from falls and other injuries, and helps keep them in place.
Fat Aids in Digestion. Have you ever noticed that after you eat a meal that’s high in fat content, you pretty quickly have a bowel movement? That’s because fat is slippery and helps move things along. If you’re blocked up, adding good fat to your diet may help with constipation.
Fat Makes Your Skin Look Younger. The secret to soft, supple skin is fat. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are a type of healthy fat that helps create your skin’s natural oil barrier. This shield of protection helps to keep your skin plump and hydrated. EFAs cannot be made in your body. You must get your EFAs from diet and supplementation.
Fat Assists with Nutrient Absorption. Some vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning your body needs fat in order to absorb them. Examples of fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K. These vitamins are essential to promoting eye health and heart health, supporting bone health and immune health, and so much more. Without proper absorption of them, your critical health systems may fail.
How do you know if you’re getting enough fat in your diet? Signs of fat deficiency include hair loss, dry skin, wounds that don’t heal quickly, skin that bruises easily, irregular menstrual periods, and feeling cold often.
There are four main types of dietary fats in foods: monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats, and trans fats. Most of the fat in your diet should come from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These are the healthy fats associated with good health. Trans fats should be avoided at all costs. To learn more on the hazards of trans fats, check out our blog Your Health: A Crash Course in Trans Fat.