We know being active, drinking plenty of water, and, of course, eating healthy are all important for staying fit—but you may not know that you don’t have to cut out all fatty foods from your diet to stay healthy!
Below, we’ll break down which fats you should be including in your diet and bust some of the most common myths about eating fats.
Healthy Fats Versus Unhealthy Fats
Healthy or “good fats” include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. These are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce your risk of heart disease, memory loss, joint pain, and more. Unhealthy or “bad fats,” on the other hand, include trans fats and saturated fats. These raise cholesterol, which can negatively affect heart health.
Eat These: Foods High in Healthy Fats
Because healthy fats benefit your body, we recommend adding them to your diet in moderation to feel fuller and boost your overall health. Foods with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats include:
- Dark chocolate
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Full-fat yogurt
- Macadamia nuts
Avoid These: Foods High in Unhealthy Fats
You’ll want to stay away from bad fats as much as possible since they can negatively affect your cholesterol levels and heart (not to mention your waistline). Foods with saturated and trans fats include:
- Coffee creamer
- Cookies, cakes, and other baked goods
- Corn and soybean oil
- Fast food
- Frozen pizza
If you’re trying to lose or maintain weight, replacing bad fats with good ones is a great start. A wellness coach can help you create a nutrition plan to incorporate polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats into your diet with delicious foods.
Common Myths about Fats
Major misconceptions about fat still exist and influence how we prepare our meals. You can make the right changes to your diet by learning these myths—and the truths behind them.
Myth 1: All fats are unhealthy.
This myth oversimplifies the types of fats we consume in our diets. The word “fat” might seem scary, but remember the two categories of fat we mentioned above? While eating trans fats and saturated fats can have unhealthy effects like raising cholesterol, healthy dietary fats actually have several benefits.
Consuming good fats in moderation can improve heart health and help your body absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can also reduce inflammation, boost memory, and even promote healthy pregnancies.
Myth 2: Our bodies don’t need any fat.
This myth is an unhealthy misconception because fat is an essential part of a balanced diet. While limiting your intake of bad fats is important, you should still eat good fats in moderation to fuel your body and help it carry out necessary functions.
Similar to proteins and carbohydrates, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats provide energy for your body. Additionally, they allow your body to regulate its temperature, hormones, your immune system, reproduction, and more.
Myth 3: Eating fats will cause weight gain.
It’s common for those attempting to lose weight to think they should always avoid fatty foods—or only eat the low-fat versions. This myth can actually hurt your ability to shed pounds. While you should avoid trans fats and saturated fats for weight loss, you’ll want to incorporate good dietary fats in your diet.
It should also be noted that dietary fat isn’t equal to body fat. Studies have shown people with moderate- or high-fat diets lose weight just as well, if not better than, those with low-fat diets. While fatty foods have higher caloric content per gram than others and should be consumed in moderation, they aren’t more likely to become body fat than proteins or carbohydrates.
The best weight-loss approach is not snacking on low-fat foods but rather reducing calorie intake (combined with regular exercise). Foods high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can actually make you feel fuller with fewer calories, making them helpful for weight loss.
Myth 4: All fat-free foods are healthy.
It’s easy to find fat-free foods on grocery store shelves, but that doesn’t always mean they’re a smart addition to your diet.
Fat-free food may be high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and calories—all of which will negatively affect you if you're trying to lose weight. Before buying fat-free snacks, check the label to make sure the lack of fat isn’t replaced with another unhealthy element.
Now that we’ve dispelled these myths about consuming fat, you can start incorporating healthy fats into your diet to curb appetite, improve heart health, and improve your overall wellness.
With two locations in Lafayette, Indiana, the Lafayette Family YMCA is a community committed to healthy living and social responsibility. For more fitness tips and to stay up to date about YMCA events, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, or visit our website here.