4 Fats Your Body Needs

September 10, 2013

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Fat. The word alone is enough to cause a serious case of the shivers in any dieter.

Diet authorities agree that to lose weight, we should cut fat. This is a pretty solid piece of advice – all fat is packed with calories and many come with health-endangering side effects.

Eating less fat generally translates to easier weight loss and better health. This does not mean, however, that we should forsake fat entirely. We need it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 20 to 35 percent of the calories in a healthy diet should come from fat.

While it’s tempting to follow the CDC’s advice by rushing out for a Super-Sized Double Bacon McCholesterol Burger, a more reasoned approach will lead to better results. Not all fats are created equal.

Some clog your arteries and contribute to the spare tire around your waist, while others are essential for keeping your body functioning well. Here’s a quick look at essential fats.

1. Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fat (sometimes called “essential oil”) is a broad category of complex fats that are primarily made up of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

While these two fatty acids have their own unique benefits for your body, polyunsaturated fats in general are great at lowering cholesterol – which lowers your risk of heart disease.

In fact, polyunsaturated fats should be used as a substitute for saturated and trans fats as much as possible.

Polyunsaturated fats are unique in that our bodies don’t produce them. In order to get more of these fats into your diet, you have to eat specific foods.

A great way to rid your diet of bad fats and replace them with polyunsaturated fats is to replace any animal-based cooking oil with corn, safflower, or soybean oil. Additional sources include walnuts and sunflower seeds.

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Commonly found in fatty fish like albacore tuna, mackerel, and salmon, Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that contribute to essential biological functions, with new benefits being discovered all the time.

Some of the benefits include regulating blood clotting, managing inflammations (like arthritis, for example), and lowering blood pressure. It’s even believed that Omega-3 fats can aid in managing depression. In addition, they also aid in higher-level cognitive functions.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids but you don’t care for fish, you can try topping a salad with flax seed or algae.

3. Omega-6 Fatty Acids

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Omega-6 fatty acids are great at fighting heart disease, asthma, and thrombosis.

Due to the fact that Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids target the same fat receptors in the body, over-consumption of either can limit the effectiveness of the other.

Be sure, then, to get the necessary amount of both in your diet.

Omega-6 fatty acids are found in corn, safflower, and soybean oils, as well as avocado, coconut, poultry, whole grain breads, and hemp oil.


4. Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats help the body limit serum cholesterol levels and raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – thus contributing to heart health. This protein is found in avocado, canola oil, nuts, olive oil, peanut oil, red wine, and seeds.

While nuts are great source of monounsaturated fat, they are also high in calories, so don’t go overboard with them.

It’s always a great idea to keep your fat intake under control, but a part of that control is making sure you’re getting enough of the right kinds of fat in your system.

Use the above list the next time you go to the grocery store and pick the right foods to get the fats that you need.


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