Fat is one of the primary micronutrients along with carbs and proteins. It helps the cell function, maintains healthy skin and hair, boosts energy levels, and protects the organs and overall body. But, this refers to the good type of fats.
The most important thing to know about fats is that there are healthy and unhealthy fats. As we mentioned, good, or healthy fats are vital for our health, performing several important functions in our body.
On the other hand, bad fats raise blood cholesterol, as well as the risk of heart disease and stroke.
What’s more, it causes weight gain as it contains a lot of calories, and excess weight can negatively affect one’s diabetes control, besides affecting the entire body.
So, even though the fat you consume doesn’t increase your blood glucose directly like carbs do, regardless if you have diabetes or not, it does increase the chances of diabetes complications.
The Role of Good Fats in The Body
Good fats are essential for your body and health because they perform the following functions:
- Supply energy to cells,
- Provide your body with crucial fatty acids that it can’t naturally produce,
- Protect organs by forming a protective layer around them,
- Help produce hormones,
- Transport vitamin A, E, D, and K – the fat-soluble vitamins.
Some of them prevent clogging of the arteries, and others reduce LDL cholesterol. Still, they are high in calories, so make sure you limit their amount.
Here are the good fats you should not avoid.
Monounsaturated fat helps reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. The best food sources of this fat are:
- Canola oil,
- Nuts like cashews, almonds, peanuts, and pecans,
- Sesame seeds,
- Olive oil and olives,
- Peanut oil and peanut butter.
However, limit your intake of oils and nuts as they are especially high in calories.
Here are the best-polyunsaturated fats for your health:
- Safflower oil,
- Corn oil,
- Soybean oil,
- Cottonseed oil,
- Sunflower oil,
- Soft (tub) margarine,
- Sunflower or pumpkin seeds,
- Salad dressings,
Try to include many of them in your diet.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This fat protects the arteries from clogging. The best food sources of omega-3s includes:
- Albacore tuna,
- Rainbow trout,
- Soybean products like tofu,
- Canola oil,
- Flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
Try to include some of these fish in your weekly diet two or three times. However, don’t fry it!
Reasons to Avoid Unhealthy Fats
Unhealthy fats raise blood cholesterol levels, thus increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, heart attack, and stroke.
Since diabetes increases the odds of these health problems, it is recommended that those with diabetes should avoid using unhealthy fats in their diet as much as they can.
Here are fats you should avoid and replace with good ones, regardless if you have diabetes or not.
The most common food sources of this fat include:
- Fatback and salt pork,
- High-fat dairy products like ice cream, full-fat cheese, whole milk, cream, 2% milk, and sour cream,
- High-fat meats such as regular ground beef, spareribs, hot dogs, bologna, bacon, and sausage,
- Cream sauces,
- Gravy made with meat drippings,
- Coconut and coconut oil,
- Palm kernel oil and palm oil,
- Poultry (turkey and chicken) skin.
Saturated fat should take not more than 10 percent of your daily calories. Usually, consuming that is 20g of saturated fat daily.
Trans fats are even worse than saturated fats for your heart. Here are the foods you should avoid:
- Stick margarine,
- Processed foods including snacks (chips and crackers) and baked goods (cakes, cookies, and muffins) with hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil,
- French fries and other fast food.
Even though your body naturally produces cholesterol, you increase this amount constantly through foods from animal sources. But, you shouldn’t consume more than 300 mg a day. Therefore, limit the following foods:
- Egg yolks,
- High-fat dairy products (cream, whole or 2% milk, ice cream, full-fat cheese),
- High-fat meat and poultry skin,
- Organ meats such as the liver.
Fats are not necessarily bad for your health and blood sugar levels. You just have to know which fats to consume and which to avoid. Also, you should learn how to limit their intake.
Consuming the right fats in the right amounts can help you control your blood sugar levels and avoid many health complications including heart attack, stroke, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol levels, etc.