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Your body needs fat. And research suggests there's no health or fitness benefit to restricting your fat intake to less than 15 percent of your daily calories.
In addition, fats provide essential fatty acids and vitamins. So aim to get 25 to 35 percent of your calories from fats -- preferably the heart-healthy unsaturated fats that come from fish, olive oil, nuts, and avocados.
Including a little bit of fat in your meals and snacks will help you feel satisfied, and it will do so on two levels: in your mouth and in your stomach. Fat makes things taste good; using fat wisely can transform boring but healthful foods into dishes you actually crave. You might dutifully chomp through five cups of raw spinach, but you'd actually look forward to that spinach sautéed in olive oil with a little garlic and pine nuts. Fat also slows the rate at which your stomach empties, keeping you feeling full longer.
Fat is not all bad. Despite its bad rap, it provides energy for exercise, and is the essential element of cell membranes. Fat also provides vitamins E, A, and D. There is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for total fat, but a daily energy intake with 20 -- 35 percent of energy from fat will provide adequate energy while preventing the risk of chronic disease from too high fat intake. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you get fat energy from 10 percent saturated fats, 10 percent polyunsaturated fats, and 10 percent monounsaturated fats. Lower levels do not enhance physical performance.
Fat is an important and necessary part of our diets; we cannot survive without it. Some of the health benefits of fat include: energy storage, breakdown of fat-soluble vitamins and phytonutrients, and hormone synthesis. However, certain fats are more beneficial than others; not all fats were created equal. "Bad" fats include trans fat (which comes from partially hydrogenated oils). They are dubbed bad fats because they are known to contribute to cardiovascular disease. This is why it is very important to reduce your consumption of these fats and instead focus on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3s and omega-6s. These fats are anti-inflammatory and prevent chronic diseases, and they have been proven to be beneficial for your body. If there is one fat I recommend avoiding as much as possible, it's hydrogenated fats. They have no value and do demonstrable harm.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.