When you follow a healthy diet, do you always exclude fats because you think they are not good for your health? If so, you are very wrong. Yes, fats get a bad rap, but because people are not aware of healthy fats and unknowingly include fats that can actually do harm. But guess that? Not all fats are bad! And you need to consume healthy fats on a regular basis to stay active. However, if you follow a low-fat diet, it can lead to health problems.
HealthShots spoke with Dr. Swathi Reddy (PT), Consultant Physical Therapist and Certified Dietary Counselor and MIAP, Motherhood Hospitals, Bangalore, about the benefits of fats and the signs of fat deficiency.
She said: “Fats are an important part of a well-balanced, healthy diet. Unfortunately, they get a bad rap as people tend to think that fats will add to their weight. But as long as fats are eaten in moderation, they won’t make you overweight. In fact, dietary fats are necessary for many biological processes. Not consuming enough fat can lead to various health problems.”
Why does your body need fat?
Dietary fats play some vital roles in the daily function of your body such as:
1. Absorption of vitamins such as vitamins A, D and E, which are fat-soluble vitamins.
2. Fats are essential for cell growth as they provide structure to the outer membrane of every cell in the body.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for maintaining the health of your brain and nervous system.
4. Subcutaneous fat (fat stored under the skin) insulates the body from extreme temperatures and helps keep the internal climate in check.
5. Some essential fatty acids are important for wound healing and blood coagulation.
6. Fats are an important source of energy for your body.
7. They also play a role in the production of hormones in the body, including sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone.
What fats are healthy?
Dietary fats can be divided into four types. They are trans fats, saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats.
1. Trans fat
Trans fats are the least healthy and can lead to various health problems. They are usually found in processed foods, fried, baked, etc. It is better to avoid them.
2. Saturated fats
Saturated fats are found in animal products such as meat, eggs, and other dairy products. You should consume them in moderation or avoid them altogether. It is recommended that less than 10 percent of your daily calories come from saturated fat.
3. Monounsaturated fats
Monounsaturated fats can help lower bad cholesterol in the blood and are healthy. They can be found in plant-based oils, nuts, avocados, and nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter, etc.), and in seeds, such as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds.
4. Polyunsaturated fats
Polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are also known as essential fats. They help reduce the risk of heart disease and help regulate blood pressure. Your body cannot make these fats, so you need to get them from foods like fatty fish, oysters, chia seeds, nuts, etc.
Add more foods with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to your diet, stay away from those with saturated and trans fats, and add a little healthy fat to every meal.
7 signs you need to eat more healthy fats
1. Vitamin deficiencies
A diet that lacks healthy fats can result in deficiencies of other nutrients by making it harder for your body to absorb nutrients. So if you’re deficient in vitamins A, D, and E, it could mean you’re not getting enough healthy fats on a regular basis.
2. Skin inflammation
Don’t worry, fats won’t harm your skin. In fact, fats are an essential part of your skin’s structure. They help maintain the moisture barrier. If you don’t eat enough healthy fats, you could lead to dermatitis (inflammation of the skin).
3. Slow wound healing
If your diet isn’t rich in healthy fats, a low dietary fat intake can cause wounds to heal more slowly than they should.
4. Getting sick frequently
A severely restricted diet of healthy fats can weaken your immune system and lead to frequent illness, fatigue, and hunger.
Also, read: Not all fats are bad! Add These 5 Healthy Fatty Foods to Your Diet
5. Hair loss
Prostaglandins are the fatty molecules that promote hair growth. A deficiency of healthy fats can lead to changes in hair texture and increase hair loss.
6. Hormonal imbalance
Hormonal problems can be the result of a diet low in healthy fats. And hormonal imbalance can also lead to weight gain and irregular periods. So add healthy fats to your regular diet.
7. Joint pain
If you suffer from joint pain or arthritis, it could be a sign that you need to eat more healthy fats. Healthy fats help reduce the risk of inflammation throughout the body and help relieve joint pain.
Can You Lose Weight Eating Healthy Fats?
Absolutely ladies! Healthy fats are vital if you want to lose weight as they help increase your metabolic rate. Additionally, consuming healthy fats increases the absorption of other essential nutrients that increase the rate of fat burning.
In fact, according to the findings of a study published in American Nurses, there is no relationship between the overall percentage of calories from healthy fats and health conditions such as weight gain and heart disease. So yes, you can lose weight by eating healthy fats. Focus on consuming polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats only!