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When following a healthy diet, do you always exclude fats because you think that they are not good for your health? If so, you’re highly mistaken. Yes, fats have a bad reputation but because people are not aware of healthy fats, and they unknowingly include fats which can really do harm. But guess what? Not all fats are bad! And you should consume healthy fats on a regular basis to keep yourself going. However, if you’re on a low fat diet, it can lead to health problems.
HealthShots spoke to Dr Swathi Reddy (PT), Consultant Physiotherapist and certified diet counsellor and MIAP, Motherhood Hospitals, Bengaluru, about the benefits of fats and signs of fat deficiency.
She said, “Fats are an important part of a well-balanced healthy diet. Unfortunately, they have a bad reputation as people tend to think fats will increase their weight. But as long as fats are consumed in moderation, they will not make you overweight. In fact, dietary fats are necessary for many biological processes. Not consuming enough fats can lead to various health issues.”
Dietary fats play some vital roles in the daily function of your body like:
1. Absorption of vitamins like vitamins A, D, and E, which are fat soluble vitamins.
2. Fats are essential for the growth of cells as they provide structure to the outer membrane of every cell in the body.
3. The omega-3 fatty acids are essential in maintaining the health of your brain and nervous system.
4. Subcutaneous fat(fat stored underneath skin) insulates the body from extreme temperatures and helps keep the internal climate under control.
5. Some essential fatty acids are important for wound healing and blood clotting.
6. Fats are an important source of energy for your body.
7. They also play a role in hormone production in the body including sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone
Dietary fats can be divided into four kinds. They are trans fats, saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats.
Trans fats are the most unhealthy and can lead to several health problems. These are usually found in processed foods, fried foods, baked goods, etc. It is best to avoid them.
Saturated fats are found in animal products like meat, eggs, and other dairy products. You should consume these in moderation or should totally avoid them. It is recommended that less than 10 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats can help reduce the bad cholesterol in your blood and they are healthy. They can be found in plant-based oils, nuts, avocados, and nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, etc), and in seeds, such as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds.
Polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are also known as essential fats. They help in reducing the risk of heart disease and help in regularising your blood pressure. Your body cannot produce these fats, hence you need to obtain them from foods like fatty fish, oysters, chia seeds, walnuts, etc.
Add more foods with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to your diet, stay clear of those with saturated and trans fats and add some healthy fat to every meal.
A diet lack of healthy fats can result in other nutrients deficiencies by making the nutrients absorption task difficult for your body. So, if you are deficient in vitamin A, D, and E, it could indicate that you’re not consuming an adequate amount of healthy fats regularly.
Don’t worry, fats are not going to harm your skin. In fact, fats are an essential part of the structure of your skin. They help in maintaining the moisture barrier. If you do not consume enough healthy fats, it could lead to dermatitis (skin inflammation).
If your diet is not rich in healthy fats, then a low intake of dietary fats can cause wounds to heal more slowly than they should.
A severely restricted diet of healthy fats can weaken your immune system leading to frequent illnesses, fatigue, and hunger.
Prostaglandins are the fatty molecules that promote hair growth. Healthy fat deficiency can lead to change in hair texture and increase hair loss.
Hormonal problems can be a result of a low healthy fats diet. And hormonal imbalance can also lead to weight gain and irregular periods. Therefore, add healthy fats to your regular diet.
If you’re suffering from joint ache or arthritis, then it could be a sign that you need to eat more healthy fats. Healthy fats helps to reduce the risk of inflammation in the whole body and help dull the pain in joints.
Absolutely ladies! Healthy fats are vital if you want to lose weight as they help to boost your metabolism rate. Moreover, consumption of healthy fats boost the absorption of other essential nutrients which fire up your fat burning rate.
In fact, according to the findings of a study published in American Nurses, there’s no link between the overall percentage of calories from healthy fats and health conditions like weight gain and heart diseases. So yes, you can lose weight by eating healthy fats. Focus on consuming polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats only!