Fat gives foods flavor, texture, and color, but it also contributes to weight gain and various health issues like heart disease. While excessive consumption of high-fat foods can lead to these health issues, some can be good for us, provided they are consumed in moderation. Healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, can promote good heart health and lower the risk of chronic diseases.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to less than 10% of calories because it can raise “bad” cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease. This type of fat is found in animal products, such as butter, full-fat dairy products, and red meat. It’s also found in tropical oils, such as coconut and palm. Decades of sound science have shown that a diet rich in saturated fats increases your cholesterol and raises the risk for coronary heart disease.
Adding saturated fats to your diet may also increase the amount of fats in your blood, which can raise your triglyceride levels, too. A high triglyceride level in your blood can also increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
A low-saturated fat, high-fiber diet is better for your heart. In addition to reducing your saturated fat intake, eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower your cholesterol. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include fish (like salmon, mackerel, and herring), tofu, walnuts, and canola oil.
Although consuming too much fat can lead to weight gain and various health problems, a healthy eating pattern should contain high-fat foods, such as whole milk, cheese, olive oil, avocados, and fatty fish. These foods can be a good energy source of protein, folate, and vitamin D.
In general, you should choose a variety of whole, unprocessed foods and eat fruits, vegetables, and lean cuts of meat. Avoid foods with added sugars, which can increase your risk of diabetes and obesity.
In addition to avoiding high-fat foods, try to limit your sodium intake by reading the nutrition labels on packaged foods and choosing those with low sodium. Look for foods labeled “low sodium” or “no salt added.” You can also add fiber to your diet by eating more fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Fiber can help reduce your risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. High-fiber foods are also high in nutrients, such as folate and potassium. These foods are also deficient in calories. Adding these healthy foods to your diet can help keep you feeling full for more extended periods, which will aid in weight loss. As a result, you’ll feel satisfied with smaller portions of other foods, such as low-fat dairy products and lean meats. This can be a great way to lose weight without cutting out the foods you enjoy most.