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Top 5 Reasons to Eat Fat

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FACT CHECKED
  Published on February 1st, 2022
  Reading time: 4 minutes
  Last modified April 7th, 2022
Foods high in healthy fats

First fat was right, then it was wrong, and now it’s right again. It’s hard to keep up with the evolving science and changing opinions on fat. You want to believe those grilled mouthwatering steaks, roast chicken, and crunchy macadamias are also good for you, but for years fat received a bad rap. Much of this stemmed from questionable science and proponents of the idea that eating saturated fat caused or exacerbated heart disease and heart attacks.

Turns out natural dietary fats from healthy whole foods like coconut oil, grass-fed beef, olive oil, and wild-caught fish are indeed good for you! In fact, dietary fat is essential for survival and optimal wellness. Saturated fat, in particular, has been wrongly demonized and has since been exonerated in the literature. Studies continue to show the benefits of both saturated and unsaturated natural dietary fats. Keto dieters love those healthy fats, so let’s discuss the top five reasons to eat fat.

5 Reasons to Eat More Fat

1. Your Brain Loves it!

The human brain is the fattiest organ in the body at around 60% fat! Your brain needs fat to function and loves using ketones as fuel! Ketones are your brain’s preferred fuel source, and they provide more cellular energy per unit of oxygen consumed when compared to glucose (sugar). People often report improvements in cognition and focus when following a ketogenic diet. If you’re having difficulty concentrating and your brain is foggy, you might not be eating enough fat, especially healthy fats like omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9. [1] [2]

Brain with neurons firing

Because ketone bodies lower tissue inflammation and free radical production, studies show this could help prevent or improve neurological disorders and conditions, including brain cancer, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury (TBI), epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease. [3] [4] A ketogenic diet has been shown to decrease tumor growth, especially when paired with intermittent fasting or caloric restriction. [5]

 Research shows a high-fat ketogenic diet can also be beneficial for depression, migraines, and post-traumatic stress disorder. [6]

2. Nutrient Absorption

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, which means you need dietary fat to properly absorb them during the digestive process. Without this essential dietary fat, you’re also missing out on these beneficial nutrients. Adding some form of fat to every meal can promote nutrient absorption! Fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A provide health benefits, such as protecting vision. In fact, a deficiency of vitamin A can lead to blindness. [7] [8]

Fats make you look good, too, and eating fat can make your hair shinier and stronger and accelerate hair growth! Your body needs fats to absorb minerals and vitamins that nourish your scalp from the inside.

3. Improves Cholesterol

Cholesterol’s been the talk of the town for some time now, and the topic is controversial and complex, to say the least. Growing research shows eating fats can actually increase the amount of ‘good’ cholesterol and lower the ‘bad’ cholesterol in your blood. Overall, consuming healthy natural dietary fat can improve cholesterol markers, another good reason to eat fat. [9]

Research also shows the cholesterol you consume in your diet has little to no effect on the cholesterol in your bloodstream. Eating more cholesterol from foods like eggs actually makes your liver produce less and stabilizes blood cholesterol. [10] Going keto can improve cholesterol!

4. Cell Regeneration and Function

Your cells are coated with a fatty membrane, and they need fat to function properly. Consuming fat actually helps you breathe! A substance made from saturated fat coats your lungs, and if you don’t eat enough saturated fat, it could negatively affect your lung health and breathing. Interesting studies have even started looking into the associations between asthma and fat consumption, concluding that those who ate more saturated fat experienced less asthma. [11]

If you’d also like healthy and glowing skin, you’ll need to chow down on those fats! Unsaturated fats help brighten skin and prevent wrinkles, and saturated fats are important for creating new skin cells to replace the dead and damaged skin cells. [12]

5. Fertility and Reproductive Hormones

Another excellent reason to eat fat is that it is important for maintaining hormonal balance and a healthy reproductive system. Both men and women use dietary fat to make reproductive hormones like testosterone and estrogen. How will you ever make your reproductive hormones and reproduce without dietary fat? Some studies suggest that restriction of dietary fat can play a role in infertility [13]

References

1.

Bak, L. K., Schousboe, A., & Waagepetersen, H. S. (2006). The glutamate/GABA-glutamine cycle: aspects of transport, neurotransmitter homeostasis and ammonia transfer. Journal of Neurochemistry, 98(3), 641-653.https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-4159.2006.03913.x

2.

LaManna, J. C., Salem, N., Puchowicz, M., Erokwu, B., Koppaka, S., Flask, C., & Lee, Z. (2009). Ketones suppress brain glucose consumption. In Oxygen Transport to Tissue XXX (pp. 301-306). Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-85998-9_45

3.

Veech, R. L. (2004). The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids, 70(3), 309-319. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plefa.2003.09.007

4.

Chang, C-Y., Ke, D-S., & Chen, J-Y. (2009). Essential fatty acids and human brain. Acta Neurol Taiwan. 18(4), 231-41.

5.

Zhou, W., Mukherjee, P., Kiebish, M. A., Markis, W. T., Mantis, J. G., & Seyfried T. N. (2007). The calorically restricted ketogenic diet, an effective alternative therapy for malignant brain cancer. Nutrition & Metabolism, 4https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-4-5

6.

Sanchez-Villegas, A., Verberne, L., Irala, J., Ruiz-Canela, M., Toledo, E., Serra-Majem, L., & Martinez-Gonzalez. (2011). Dietary fat intake and the risk of depression: The SUN Project. PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016268

7.

Sommer, A. (2008). Vitamin A deficiency and clinical disease: An historical overview. Journal of Nutrition, 138(10), 1835-1839. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/138.10.1835

8.

National Research Council (US) Committee on Diet and Health. (1989) Diet and Health Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk. National Academies Press (US). Fat-Soluble Vitamins - Diet and Health - NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)

9.

Blesso, C. N., Andersen, C. J., Barona, J., Volek, J. S., & Fernandez, M. L. (2013). Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndrome. Metabolism, 62(3), 400-10. DOI: 10.1016/j.metabol.2012.08.014

10.

Jones, P. J., Pappu, A. S., Hatcher, L., Li, Z. C., Illingworth, D. R., & Connor, W. E. (1996). Dietary cholesterol feeding suppresses human cholesterol synthesis measured by deuterium incorporation and urinary mevalonic acid levels. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol, 16(10), 1222-8. DOI: 10.1161/01.atv.16.10.1222

11.

Black, P. N., & Sharpe, S. (1997). Dietary fat and asthma: Is there a connection? Eur Respir J, 10(1), 6-12. DOI: 10.1183/09031936.97.10010006

12.

Nagata, C., Nakamura, K., Wada, K., Oba, S., Hayashi, M., Takeda, N., & Yasuda, K. (2010). Association of dietary fat, vegetables and antioxidant micronutrients with skin ageing in Japanese women. British Journal of Nutrition, 103(10), 1493-8. DOI: 10.1017/S0007114509993461

13.

Panth, N., Gavarkovs, A., Tamez, M., & Mattei, J. (2018). The influence of diet on fertility and the implications for public health nutrition in the United States. Front Public Health, DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2018.00211

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