The Skinny on Dietary Fat: Myths & What You Need to Know

The Skinny on Dietary Fat: Myths & What You Need to Know

In today’s health-conscious society, dietary fat has often been identified as a villain. But the truth is, not all fat is as bad as you think they are. In fact, many dietary fats play a crucial role in our overall health and well-being.

The truth as it relates to fat is that you need a regular intake of it to provide your body energy, protect organs, keep cholesterol and blood pressure at bay, regulate hormones, support cell growth, and help your body absorb essential nutrients.

If you focus too much on cutting fat out of your diet, you can actually deprive your body of what it requires the most, and it could potentially be damaging to your overall health.

In this article, we will dive deeper and learn more about the benefits of dietary fat and the various types of fat so that you no longer need to look at fat as something you need to avoid, like the plague.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor or dietician before making any changes to your nutrition plan.

What is Dietary Fat?

Dietary fat is the fat sourced from the food we consume. When we ingest dietary fats, the body breaks them down into smaller components known as fatty acids, which are then able to enter the bloodstream. These fatty acids are essential as the body uses them to manufacture the fats required for various functions.

Fats play a crucial role in how our bodies utilize many vitamins and are integral to the structure and functioning of all cells in the body.

It’s important to note that not all dietary fats are created equal. Different types of dietary fats can have varying effects on the body. Some are considered essential for good health, some may increase the risk of certain diseases, and yet others can help prevent these diseases. The type and quality of dietary fats we consume can significantly impact our overall health and well-being.

The Remarkable Benefits of Unsaturated Fats

This particular category of dietary fats takes home a positive report card when it comes to its health benefits, and it can be divided into two key categories:

1.    Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFAs)

Polyunsaturated fats can remarkably lower levels of the “bad” cholesterol, LDL, while simultaneously increasing the “good” cholesterol, HDL. Moreover, PUFAs contribute to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, marking it a triple win. Polyunsaturated fats are rich sources of those sought-after omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids we often hear about.

These healthy fats not only contribute to improved cardiovascular health but also offer benefits that extend to the great appearance of hair, radiant skin, and overall well-being.

2.    Monounsaturated Fats (MUFAs)

Monounsaturated fats, too, play a crucial role in supporting heart health. They actively reduce levels of LDL cholesterol while maintaining the important HDL cholesterol.

Research suggests that monounsaturated fats can even go the extra mile by lowering the risks associated with cardiovascular disease. With their heart-healthy properties, MUFAs provide a delicious and nutritious way to maintain overall health and well-being.

Both of these remarkable dietary fats deserve high praise for their exceptional contributions to our health. They offer a dual approach to heart health and are essential components of a well-rounded, nutritious diet.

6 Health Benefits of Dietary Fats

While many people consider dietary fat unhealthy, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Below are some remarkable benefits of dietary fat:

1.    Dietary fat and brain health

Eating more “good” fats and less “bad” fats can also be great for your brain. Studies have found a strong link between people who follow the MIND diet and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The MIND diet suggests eating more of 10 specific foods and less of five others. Some of the good foods include healthy-fat items like nuts, fatty fish, and olive oil. On the flip side, the “bad” foods – butter, cheese, red meat, pastries, and fried and fast foods – are loaded with saturated fat.

In a 2015 study published in the Alzheimer’s & Dementia journal, researchers examined the diets of over 900 people aged 58 to 98. They filled out food questionnaires and had their brain functions tested multiple times.

The results were astounding: those who closely followed the MIND diet had brain functions comparable to people over seven years younger. This research highlights how the kinds of fats you eat can significantly impact brain health and overall well-being.

2.    Supports standard cholesterol levels

Research shows that healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, can play a crucial role in sustaining healthy cholesterol levels. By including these fats in your diet, you may effectively support healthy cholesterol levels and enhance your overall heart health.

3.    Supports hormone production

Dietary fat plays a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth operation of our hormonal system. The hormonal system is the control center for numerous vital functions in our body, including brain activity, muscle coordination, metabolism regulation, and more.

Many glands in our body, such as the adrenals, thymus, thyroid, kidneys, and others, rely on the presence of dietary fats to produce essential hormones. For instance, men should especially pay close attention to their fat intake as it can help maintain healthy testosterone production and levels.

4.    Improves liver health

Polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-3s, have been shown to potentially reduce liver fat. An extensive study involving 1,424 patients revealed that omega-3 supplementation could have a positive impact on liver health.

5.    Strengthens bone health

Building strong bones requires more than just calcium. A study conducted in Quebec, Canada, has established a connection between the intake of monounsaturated fats and bone resilience. The findings emphasize that incorporating foods rich in essential fatty acids into your diet can enhance bone health.

6.    Nutrient absorption

Experts emphasize the crucial role of fat in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as its contribution to immune system components, temperature regulation, cell membrane structure, and the influence it exerts on various biological functions.

While we’ve explored the numerous benefits of dietary fats, there’s another essential aspect that deserves our attention: carrier fats, often referred to as carrier oils. These unsung heroes play a pivotal role in ensuring that the nutrients we gain from our diet are efficiently transported to where they’re needed most in the body.

Dietary Fat

What Are Carrier Oils or Carrier Fats?

Carrier fats and carrier oils are derived from the fatty components of plants like nuts, seeds, and kernels. Unlike essential oils, they are stable in the presence of oxygen and do not evaporate as essential oils do. These carrier fats earned their name because they serve as a vehicle to carry essential oils onto the skin.

It’s essential to dilute these essential oils before applying them, as undiluted use can lead to skin irritation and sensitization. Carrier oils often have a subtle, natural aroma that doesn’t interfere with their application on the skin.

Beyond their transport role, carrier oils offer skin-enhancing properties, promoting healthy skin by providing natural vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and beneficial fatty acids, including Omega-9, Omega-6, and Omega-3. These components contribute not only to better skin tone but also to overall well-being.

Here are some amazing benefits of carrier fat:

  • Nourishing: Carrier fats provide the skin with essential fatty acids and vitamins, helping to maintain a toned, healthy, and youthful appearance.
  • Moisturizing: They effectively lock moisture into the skin, making them a valuable choice for individuals with dry skin.
  • Versatility: Carrier oils have diverse applications, including use in face and body oils, facial cleansers, or hair treatments for promoting healthy hair growth.
  • Antioxidant properties: Carrier fats contain antioxidants that not only extend the oil’s shelf life but also protect the skin from free radical damage. However, it’s important to note that certain oils, like flaxseed oil, may not be suitable for skin care products due to their rapid rancidity.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Carrier oils have the ability to reduce skin inflammation, offering relief to those with conditions like eczema or rosacea.

Types of Carrier Fat

Here are the most effective carrier oils that you can consume:

  1. Coconut oil: Known for its moisturizing properties and antimicrobial potential, it contains high levels of lauric acid.
  2. Black cumin seed oil: This oil is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and can aid wound healing.
  3. Jojoba oil: Often used in massages, it’s also anti-inflammatory and beneficial for acne-prone skin.
  4. Evening primrose oil: Historically used for various remedies, it may improve the quality of life in multiple sclerosis and reduce eczema symptoms.
  5. Rosehip oil: Rich in essential fatty acids, it promotes relaxation, reduces anxiety, and offers therapeutic benefits.
  6. Grapeseed oil: Known for its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, it has a light, sweet, nutty aroma and leaves a glossy film on the skin.

Stop Vilifying Dietary Fat

When looking at your nutrition, it is wise to take a holistic approach. Consider everything in moderation and look for the good in all the healthy foods you consume on a daily basis. For far too long, fats have been deemed bad for you and unhealthy.

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As you have found throughout this article, dietary fat has many health benefits when you know what to look for and how they can positively affect your health. Don’t shy away from these essential nutrients that your body and brain crave. Ensure you take in your daily recommended fat intake and experience all the health benefits that healthy dietary fat has to offer.

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