Answer: Too much of anything can be bad for you. But in the proper amounts, dietary fat makes a contribution to good health. There are essential fatty acids that the body needs for health and normal functioning that must be obtained through diet. Additionally, sufficient fat will make you feel fuller, improve the taste of foods and add to your skin and hair care. Certain fats called omega-3s are very healthful, and higher intake of these fats has been associated with lower risk of heart disease, certain cancers, cognitive decline and decreased systemic inflammation such as in rheumatoid arthritis.
Current dietary fat recommendations are as follows:
- Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids, with less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible
- Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils
Below are the two types of unsaturated fats:
- Monounsaturated fats are found in high concentrations in canola, peanut, and olive oils; avocados; nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans; and seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds.
- Polyunsaturated fats are found in high concentrations in sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils, and also in foods such as walnuts, flax seeds, and fish. Omega-3 fats, which are fast becoming the darling of the supplement industry, are an important type of polyunsaturated fat. The body can't make these, so they must come from food. An excellent way to get omega-3 fats is by eating fish two or three times a week. If you do not consume fish in these amounts you may choose to use an appropriate supplement.