All About Fats: Here's Everything You Need to Know

What are fats?

Fats are made of fatty acids attached to a glycerol and are necessary to form a protective layer around each of your ~37.2 trillion cells. These cells make up your skin, organs, blood vessels, brain cells and require fats for structure, protection and to carry out critical functions. For example, fats provide energy and are a necessary material for creating hormones - the signaling and regulatory molecules of the body. Your body can produce some of its own fats, while others must be consumed in the diet and therefore termed “essential fatty acids”.

Additional benefits

  • Omega-3s - supports brain health and reduces risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease

  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) - a type of omega-3 fat that is particularly important for brain and nervous system function and comes from marine animals as well as plant sources such as walnuts, flax, chia and hemp seeds, and edamame.

  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) - a type of omega-3 particularly noted for its role in eye health and inflammation reduction, found mostly in marine animal sources such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, mussels and clams.

The Apeiron Life perspective

  • Fats have calories. More calories per gram than anything else. While a necessary part of the diet, portion control and moderation is the key.

  • Over consumption of fats leads to weight gain, blood sugar dysregulation, inflammation, fatty liver and other deleterious health effects.

  • However, a diet with “low fat” everything and inadequate amounts of healthy fat wreak havoc on your brain, heart, hormones and leaves your cells unprotected from oxidative damage that could eventually lead to cancer.

  • Highly emphasize unsaturated and whole food versions for the health of your heart, brain and other organs.

  • Refined fats (i.e. oils) do not have fiber. Fiber is essential for gut health. For this reason and many more, whole food versions of fats are wiser options. They give you the benefit of healthy fats plus the other vitamins, minerals and fiber that is stripped away in processed oils. Small amounts of occasional oil is fine. More often than not though, aim for the whole food version - walnuts vs walnut oil, edamame vs soybean oil, sunflower seeds vs sunflower oil, etc.

Avoid & optimize

  • Avoid/limit trans and saturated fats - coconut oil, high fat meats, grain fed meat, cured meats, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, full fat dairy, butter, lard, packaged baked goods, margarine

  • Optimize unsaturated fats - olives, avocado, all whole nuts & seeds, edamame, vegetable & olive oils in moderation

Pro tips

If you regularly eat at restaurants or consume food prepared outside the home, you are likely getting more than enough fats from added oils and high fat dairy. When ordering:

  • Ask for dressings on the side, use sparingly.

  • Always opt for a red sauce over a cream sauce.

  • Skip the charcuterie. Cured meats and high fat cheeses should not be a staple appetizer due to high saturated fat and sodium content. Instead, opt for a salad, steamed seasonal vegetables or the contentment of conversation while you await your main course.

  • Request lemon instead of butter - melted butter is often added over the top of steaks, salmon, other proteins, and even cooked vegetables to give a visually appealing “sheen” and added fat and salt flavor. Instead, ask for a squeeze of lemon for flavor and moisture if needed.

  • Don’t be cheesy. Melted cheese in and on everything is not okay.

  • Be aware of hidden sources of oils or lard. (i.e. Choose whole baked beans over refried, opt for grilled over “pan fried” or “pan seared”)

  • Vegetarian and vegan “burgers” are often made from grains, legumes, and vegetables. This is great for the fiber but tons of oil is often added for moisture. If you are vegan, consider more whole food menu options. If you consume meat, go for a salmon or lean turkey burger and choose sides and toppings wisely.

Work with your Client Advocate and Apeiron Life team for more individualized tips for your lifestyle, goals and travel schedule.

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