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Knowing Nutrition

Fat:  Friend or Foe?


Most people believe fat is something to be avoided.  We think that fat makes us fat. Good fat however, in appropriate amounts, is essential to nourishing our bodies and influencing our health?


Sad to say, but good fats are not the saturated fats found in bacon or French fries.  They are not the trans fats found in processed cakes and cookies made with shortening or hydrogenated oils.  And they aren’t in most fried foods or fast foods.


The unsaturated fats that we want to eat come from whole foods that aren’t altered by processing plants. Two types of fat, omega-6 and omega-3 are particularly important to our diets because our bodies can’t make them; they must be consumed. These are called essential fatty acids and they help regulate key physiological functions like blood clotting, regulating blood pressure and intestinal tract motility.


Omega-6 fats are found in vegetable oils, like olive oil, and nut oils, like walnut oil.


Omega-3 fats are found in leafy green vegetables, fish and fish oils, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, flaxseed and flaxseed oil and walnuts.


Some other examples of good fats are:


     Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds



     Reduced-fat dairy products


Healthful fats should make up 25 – 35 percent of your daily calorie intake.  Good fats are essential for brain health, mood stabilization, hormone development and sustained energy. Fats slow the absorption of carbohydrates to help keep us satisfied and curb cravings. The body needs fat to digest and absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A.  Good fats build cell membranes and are important for healthy hair and skin.


Even though fat is an important part of a good diet, too much fat, regardless of the type can be damaging to our bodies. Consuming more calories than you burn will cause your body to store the extra energy as fat.  However, if you store too much fat energy, excess body weight can contribute to many diseases including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and certain cancers.  


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