Low-fat crackers, no-fat snacks or “light” yogurt and all of their many cousins have bombarded grocery stores across the nation in the past decade, but now the anti-fat craze may be evaporating, and our bellies aren’t getting bigger because of it.
There are three macronutrients that we need to survive: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel, and are important for intestinal health and waste elimination. Protein is important for growth, tissue repair and immune function, among many other things.
But fat is vital too, for normal development, energy, vitamin absorption, cushioning organs and for healthy cell membranes. While fat does contribute to unhealthy weight gain, it is an essential part of a healthy diet. In fact, between 20-35 percent of our diets should come from fats, according to the latest USDA recommendations.
But since fat has somehow become the enemy of our health, how do we let bygones be bygones and start eating fats again?
Tips for Eating Healthy Fats
First, it is important to remember that fats are found in an enormous variety of foods, and that fat comes in many types. Saturated fats are found in meats, butter, lard and cream, and needs to be consumed only in limited amounts. Trans fat is found in snack foods and baked goods, and are the worst kind of fat. Unsaturated fats, like in oils, avocados and nuts, are shown to contribute to better health.
So the first step in eating healthy fats is to find fats that you like that fall in the unsaturated category. For example, find the right kind of olive oil for you and your family. In connection with this, don’t categorize the health of a meal or snack by the total amount of fat in it. You need to remember that lots of fat isn’t as bad when the type of fat being consumed is unsaturated.
For those seeking ways to get better fats into their diets, try fish. Fish is an excellent source of good fats, be it salmon, bass or rainbow trout caught in Utah’s lakes or rivers.
A second tip is to stop being scared of using butters and mayonnaise that isn’t “low-fat.” Eating real butter is fine, and even good for health, when eaten in moderation. In fact, many low-fat foods have a lengthy ingredient list: a bad sign for nutrition. Look for shorter ingredient lists.