Dietary fats: Know which types to choose

Dietary fats: Know which types to choose

When choosing fats, pick unsaturated fat over saturated fat. Here's how.

You don't need to eliminate all fat from your diet. In fact, some fats actually help promote good health. But it's wise to choose the healthier types of dietary fat and then enjoy them as part of a balanced diet.

The facts about fat

There are numerous types of fat. Your body makes its own fat from taking in excess calories. Some fats are found in the foods you eat — these are called dietary fats. Dietary fat is a macronutrient that provides energy for your body.

Fat is essential to your health because it supports a number of your body's functions. Some vitamins, for instance, must have fat to dissolve so that they can be used by your body.

But some types of dietary fat are thought to play a role in cardiovascular disease. In addition, fats are high in calories, so you need to balance your fat intake against the other foods you eat so that you don't take in more calories than you need. If you eat more calories than you need, you will gain weight. Excess weight is linked to poor health.

Research about the possible harms and benefits of dietary fat is always evolving. Current evidence suggests that the smart play is to focus on choosing healthier fats and avoiding the less healthy ones.