New research has shown that when women diet, those eating the greatest percentage of the total fat in their diets as saturated fat lose the most weight, which is a shocking revelation considering what we have been told time and time again. So fat doesn't make you fat? Biologically, your body needs fat to function. Fats help you absorb vitamins A, D, and E, and they are vital for your nervous system. Of your total daily calories, 25 to 30 percent should come from fat. Most research indicates that fat sources should mostly come from monounsaturated sources, which lower bad LDL cholesterol (those that cause blocked arteries) and raise the good HDL cholesterol levels. These fats will actually prevent stomach fat from forming. Foods boosted with these healthy fats are olive oil, almonds and cashews, peanut butter and tahini, seeds and avocados.
What's most surprising is that while we've all heard saturated fats are the ones that raise those bad cholestrol levels, saturated fat plays a couple of key roles in cardiovascular health. The addition of saturated fat to the diet reduces the levels of a substance called lipoprotein that correlates strongly with risk for heart disease. Currently there are no medications for reducing lipoprotein, except for eating saturated fat. Just like the 'fat-free' movement, saturated fat has been falsely accused of the reason why we are fat. Eating saturated fats, like unsaturated fats, also raise good cholesterol.
Those 'evil' saturated fats we have been well schooled on are found in foods like burgers and fries, many desserts and sweets, cheese, butter and coconut. But in actual fat, a small dose of saturated fat in your diet a few times a week can help to fire up your metabolism. Certain saturated fats, particularly those found in butter, lard, and coconut oil function directly as signalling messengers that influence the metabolism, including such critical jobs as the appropriate release of insulin.Without the correct signals to tell the organs and glands what to do, the job will not get done properly. Saturated fats also play key roles in immune health. Loss of sufficient saturated fatty acids in the white blood cells hampers their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
The other type of fat is the polyunsaturated fats, which also help to lower your bad cholestrol levels. The important quality of these fats is that they contain essential omega-3 fatty acids which boost brain function, strengthen your immune system and improve your mood. These fats also contain omega-6 fatty acids, which help keep skin supple and eyes healthy. Omega-3s are primarily in fish like salmon and swordfish, as well as canola oil, flaxseed, walnuts, and tofu. Omega-6s are in corn and safflower oil, corn-fed chicken and beef, and farmed fish.
The debate of good and bad fats and their role in your diet will continue as research is carried on in this area. It is important to remember than when you eat something higher in fat, not sugar, you will feel more satisfied and eat less throughout the day. However, it is best to eat everything in moderation and enjoy the odd burger and fries.