Ask A Dietitian: What Are Healthy Fats, and Why Are They Essential?
Our expert breaks down the why behind healthy fats and how you can get more in your diet.
A lot of people still think that fat content in foods is taboo when dieting, meaning that they should cut all fat out of their diet. But did you know that fat is actually something we need in our diet for good health? Not only that, but adding or subtracting fat to or from your diet won't cause you to gain or lose weight.
Let me explain.
Now, let's recap what we've learned about healthy fats:
Don't make total fat your focus.
Your focus should be on the type of fat rather than how much the food item contains. Shift your focus instead to looking for unsaturated fat.
Unsaturated fat is where it's at.
These are the fats found in plant oils, nuts, fatty fish, and avocados. These fats will increase satiety and are good for both heart and overall health.
Fat doesn't help you lose weight.
Adding a little fat to meals increases satiety, making it less likely to overeat because you feel hungry later. Also, excess fat doesn't make you gain weight; excess calories do. The key is finding a balance.
Here's how you incorporate healthy fats into your diet.
There are many different ways you can ensure you're getting enough healthy fats. Here are a few that should help:
- Use an oil-based salad dressing—and ditch your fat-free varieties
- Snack on nuts throughout the day
- Incorporate more fish into your diet
- If you're not lactose intolerant, eat some dairy products that are a little higher in fat