The Skinny on Fat

When you hear the word “fat” what do you think of? Most of us think of French fries, a greasy hamburger, butter or excess body weight. But fat is very important to help keep our bodies healthy and kids’ bodies need fat to grow and develop.

Fat is a nutrient like a protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. Its part of every cell in our body and it supplies us with energy. You also need fat so your body can absorb certain vitamins like A, D, E and K. Fat also helps you have healthy hair and skin and it makes food taste good!

There are 4 major kinds of fat in the foods that we eat:

  • Saturated fat
  • Trans-fat
  • Dietary cholesterol
  • Unsaturated fats
Saturated Fats, trans-fats and dietary cholesterol are considered the worst because they lead to higher blood cholesterol levels, obesity and heart disease. Some examples of foods with those fats are: Fast food hamburgers, French fries, chocolate, potato chips, chicken skin and are in many processed foods like crackers, imitation cheese, cakes, pastries and snack foods.

So what kind of fats should we eat?

We don’t need a “no-fat” diet, we need a “right fat” diet. Some foods that have right fats are: Seeds and nuts (pumpkin, sesame seeds, peanuts, walnuts and almonds), Avocados, Fish (especially tuna and salmon), Flaxseed, Healthy oils like olive and canola oils.

Generally fats that are liquid at room temperature are better for you than fats that are solid. A good example is butter and margarine where as olive oil is liquid. The fat in fish is better than the fat found in chicken. Fat from plants like the avocado as well as nuts and seeds is better for you than fat that comes from animals, such as beef or pork.

Its okay to eat foods like cookies, chocolate or burgers once in a while but the trick is not to eat these kinds of foods all the time. So, when having lunch instead of eating a bag of chips with your sandwich, try veggies sticks or some fruit. Small changes can make a big difference.