Fats are necessary and play an important role in storing energy, providing insulation and protection, and regulating and signaling functions throughout the body. Watch now.
Contrary to what you may have heard, fat is necessary for the body to function and therefore an important part of a healthy and balanced diet. Fat in the body plays important roles in storing energy, providing insulation and protection to tissues and organs, and helping the body to produce and regulate hormones. Large amounts of dietary fat is not required because the body can produce most of what it needs. Fat also plays unique roles in the diet, including increasing the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals, and contributing to the flavor and satisfaction of food.
Triglycerides are the main form of fat in the body and in foods, where fatty acids are a major building block. Fatty acids are categorized as either saturated or unsaturated. The dietary guidelines for Americans recommends consuming fewer than 10 percent of calories from saturated fats. Above that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. An emphasis is placed on consuming monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats because of their health promoting benefits.
Pecans, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, avocados, olive oil, and peanut oil are some good sources of monounsaturated fats. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna, corn oil, safflower oil, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds are good sources of polyunsaturated fats that include the essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Whole plant-based foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids also include other healthful nutrients, like fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are health promoting and protective against cancer.
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