Contrary to what you might think, fat isn't the enemy. Foods low in fat can be just as unhealthy as those high in fat, since many reduced-fat foods make up for the flavor from the missing fat by adding sugar. You just need to choose the right types of fat and stay within the recommended limits.
Need For Fat
Your body can't make two types of fat it needs for keeping your body healthy -- omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats -- so you need to get these from food. If you didn't eat any foods containing fat, you wouldn't be able to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. You also need fat for controlling inflammation and for creating hormones and nerve tissue.
Benefits of Healthy Fats
Most of the fat you consume should be unsaturated, since this is the type of fat that lowers your heart disease and high cholesterol risk. Consuming the recommended amount of fat will also help you keep from getting too fatigued, make your meals more satisfying so you are less likely to overeat and prevent moodiness, according to HelpGuide.org. Omega-3 fats are particularly beneficial, since they control inflammation and may lower your risk for Alzheimer's disease, arthritis and cancer. They also have heart-protective effects.
Risks of Unhealthy Fats
Saturated fats and trans fats increase your unhealthy low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and trans fats also decrease your healthy high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, both of which increase your heart disease risk. Eating foods high in saturated fats may also make you more likely to suffer from diabetes, according to MayoClinic.com. Replace these fats with unsaturated fats.
Recommended Fat Intake
While some types of fat can be beneficial to your health, you don't want to consume too much of them. Fat has more calories than carbs or protein, with 9 calories per gram instead of 4, so eating too much of it can cause you to go over your daily calorie limit and gain weight. Limit your total fat intake to 35 percent of your calories, with no more than 10 percent coming from each saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat, no more than 1 percent coming from trans fats and the remainder coming from monounsaturated fat.
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.