“You heard me correctly, fat IS a nutrient, and a necessary one at that. Fat plays a vital role in maintaining healthy skin and hair, insulating organs against shock, regulating body temperature and promoting healthy cell function. There are also several vitamins, vitamins A, D, E and K to be exact, which are fat soluble, meaning they are only absorbed in the presence of fat. If you’ve ever read the bottle of a multi-vitamin, the directions state to take them WITH FOOD. This is why. You won’t gain the benefits of those vitamins without the presence of the fat in the food to break them down. If you choose to take them with a fat free yogurt, you’re defeating the purpose. 

Ok, we’ve established that fat is a necessary evil, but I’m sure you’ve heard reference to “good fats” and “bad fats”. Most of us assume, and our thighs agree, that all fats are bad fats. The truth is, some fats are born bad, while others only become bad when taken in excess, which is why we can’t get all of our calories from ice cream. 

Fat comes in many forms, and exists in almost anything good, because fat gives flavor. Oils, like olive oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, etc., are fat in liquid form. When you unwrap a fresh steak from the supermarket, you’ll note the white “marbling” throughout. That’s fat. The 2% on your milk carton tells you what percentage of fat is in it. Butter… Mostly fat, the chewy part of bacon – fat, and on and on. You get the point. 

So how do you know which fats are OK and which fats you should stay away from? That all depends on the type of fat in the food. Chemically, fat is broken down into a few different kinds. Saturated fat is the evil villain of the fat world. This is because saturated fats, like those found in animal tallow (the marbling in your steak and the chewy on your bacon) and lard, are typically solid at room temperature. When consumed in large amount, these are the artery clogging fats that your doctor warns you about. 

Unsaturated fats are chemically similar to saturated fats, but remain liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats can be turned into saturated fats through a process called “hydrogenization”. This is how margarine is made. 

Some unsaturated fats contain essential fatty acids that give added benefits. For example, the fatty acid omega-3, which is prevalent in fish (like salmon and tuna) and flaxseed oil, contains EPA and DHA, which aids in brain development. High consumption of omega-3 has also been shown to reduce triglycerides, heart rate and blood pressure. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil have been shown to lower the risks of coronary heart disease and to protect against certain forms of cancer.

“Trans fats” are fats that rarely exists in nature, but are easily produced in a lab. They make unsaturated fats harder to freeze thus staying liquid at lower temperatures, but studies have shown that they can significantly increase the risks of coronary heart disease.”


*This is an exerpt from my Kindle ebook “What Does That Even Mean?: A Navagational Guide to Understanding the Health Hype”