Types of fat

If you’ve followed us on Instagram (@newleafnutrish), you’ve seen that we’ve discussed carbohydrates and protein. Now it’s time to talk about fat! Fats are another vital nutrient in our bodies, and it’s important to include fats in our diets. However, not all fats are created equal. Some should definitely be consumed more often than others.

Alex Harris, dietitian at New Leaf Nutrition, holds nuts, seeds, and chocolate covered dried fruit in her hands.

Trans fats are ones to try and avoid as much as possible because they’ve been shown to increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. They’re made from partially hydrogenated oil, and most frequently found in things like shortening, fried foods, and baked goods. Companies are required to label the amount of trans fat in a product, so always check your food labels. Look for products with no trans fats!

Saturated fats are another type of fat that should be limited. These fats tend to move the bad cholesterol (LDL) into your arteries. They’re mostly found in animal products like butter, red meats, and dairy products. Saturated fats should make up no more than 10% of your daily calorie intake. For example, if you follow a 2000 calorie diet, that would be no more than 22 grams of saturated fat daily.

Poly- and monounsaturated fats are those found mostly in plant and fish sources. Replacing saturated fats with these fats (especially polyunsaturated) have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats have one double bond, and are found in nuts, olive oil, and canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats have two or more double bonds. They are found in fish, nuts, seeds, and certain plant oils, like safflower and sunflower.

Roasted salmon on top of zucchini slices

Alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3) and linoleic acid (omega 6) are the two essential fats. These have to be obtained through diet since our bodies can’t make them. They’re both polyunsaturated, and found in the sources listed above. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are two types of omega 3s that have been shown to be extremely beneficial for our health! They are great for reducing inflammation and improving cardiovascular health. You can find omega-3s in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, as well as in things like flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Even though dietary fats can sometimes get a bad reputation, they are essential to our diets. It’s recommended that anywhere from 20%-35% of our daily calories should come from fat. To find out what would work best for you and your needs, schedule your free discovery call with us, and see what we can do to help you reach your goals!

-Alex Harris, MA, RD, LD, CPT

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