With many health claims bombarding consumers, it is hard to discern between fact and fiction. Dietary fat has long been scrutinized for health risks including heart disease. So the common question becomes, “Does eating fat lead to weight gain?” Well, the fact is: dietary fat alone does not cause the number on the scale to rise.
The fallacy that fat turns to fat is media driven and has never had any scientific basis and there is no evidence to support that the body preferentially stores dietary fat as fat in the body. On the contrary, when fat is included in our diets we stay fuller longer and are less likely to compulsively eat. The message the media fails to project is that dietary fat is a necessity in maintaining balance and homeostasis.
Homeostasis occurs when the body systems (orangs and tissues) are all working at their best.
Dietary Fat is one of the three energy-providing macronutrients essential to support life. In fact, when the essentiality of fats was first discovered they were called, “Vitamin F”. If this were still the case, maybe we would understand and be more accepting of their importance. Instead of demonizing fats, let’s review a few of the many reasons why we need them in our daily intake:
- Fats support organ and tissue structure and function
- Fat aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)
- Fat is an important nutrient for growth and brain development
- Fat is a component of hormones and hormone-like compounds that regulate blood pressure, heart rate, blood clotting, and the nervous system
- Fat is a component of cell membranes
- Fat is essential for maintaining healthy hair and skin
- Fat enhances the taste of food and influences its texture
- Fat promotes satiety, keeping us satisfied for hours after a meal
The US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services recommends that fat make up no more than 30-35% of one’s daily caloric intake. Notice that percentage and grams are very different. Some people hear to limit fat to 30% and erroneously limit fat intake to 30 grams. This doesn’t work because 30 grams is not enough to make up 30% of any person’s diet, not to mention that 30% would equal a different number of grams for every individual.
So the next time you are at your local grocer’s, including some of the food items listed below to your basket. Your body and your taste buds will thank you for it!
Examples of foods that contain fats:
- Butter and Margarine
- Sour Cream
- Meat, poultry, fish and dairy products also contain varying amounts of fat
For more information on your specific dietary needs, consult a local, registered dietitian.
Cheers to good health!
Brittany Hunter RD/LD