Paul-Hackett-2By Paul D. Hackett, MS RCEP

Dietary fat is one of three macro-nutrients that make up your diet along with protein and carbohydrates.

The Mayo Clinic recommends that fats comprise from 20% to 35% of your total calorie intake.  Although fat has taken a bad rap over the years it is vitally important to your health and necessary for life!

Eat fat for:

  • Keeping your trillions and trillions of cells healthy.  Lipids that are a major component of all cell membranes.
  • Proper hormone production.
  • To absorb fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Fat is good for bone health!
  • Brain health. 60% of your brain is comprised of fat. Being a fat head should be a goal!
  • Lowering body fat. Balanced with protein and carbs, fats help you feel full longer and also reduce your insulin response by slowing the release of glucose into the blood stream.

Types of Fat

Fats are divided into three main categories… MUFA’s, PUFA’s and saturated. I am intentionally not discussing trans-fats as it would be best to not include them in your diet.

MUFA’s (Monounsaturated Fats) are often called “healthy Fats”.  Some popular MUFA rich sources are: olive oil, almonds, avocado, and many nuts and seeds. These are associated with lower levels of bad cholesterol and reduced risk of heart disease. Most of your fat intake should come from MUFA’s.

PUFA’s (Polyunsaturated Fat) are also considered healthy fats (most of them). The stars of this group are the Omega 3’s, which have shown benefits for the heart, blood pressure, joints, and brain.  Wild caught salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel are some of the tastiest sources for this coveted fat.

Together, MUFA’s and PUFA’s should comprise about 90% of your total fat intake.  Saturated fats should comprise no more than 7% to 10% of your total fat intake.  Most people get the majority of their saturated fats through eating animal meat and processed foods. One saturated fat that has been getting positive reviews of late is coconut oil for its unique qualities for possible anti-viral and good cholesterol boosting benefits; further research is needed.

Paul D. Hackett, MS RCEP is a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist at the Fitness Center and can help with lifestyle change, modifying exercise routines to adapt to injuries, and nutrition.  Stop by the Fitness Center or call him at 236-2506.