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The Importance of Dietary Fat: Part 2 - Functions & Best Sources

Updated: Jan 7, 2023

The Importance of Dietary Fat: Part 2 - Functions & Best Sources - Lewis Training Performance

As you learned in part 1 of this article series, the fat we can find in food comes in many forms, some of which may be bad for the body.

Oppositely, there are also essential fatty acids in food, which our bodies need, but can’t produce on their own.

These essential fats are namely Omega-6 & Omega-3 fatty acids.

In this article, we’re going to give you insight on the balance of omega fatty acids, functions of healthy dietary fat in the body, as well as best sources to derive fat from!

Now let’s get to it.

The Omega Balance

Alright, you now know that omega-3 & 6 fatty acids are important, but that doesn't mean you should consume as much as possible.

Even more so, these fatty acids must be consumed in a particular ratio.

This is because omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory and on the other hand, omega-3 is anti-inflammatory.

This means that if we take in too much omega-6, there will be more inflammations in our organism.

Now, speaking in numbers, a ratio of 4:1 or 1:1 (omega-6:omega-3) seems to be the best, but you don’t really need to go deep into numbers.

Instead, your best bet would be to slightly increase the amount of fatty fish in your nutrition plan, or, supplement with omega-3 fish oil supplements.

“Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today's Western diets, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids- US National library of medicine

The Functions Of Dietary Fat

Alright, as you already learned, your daily nutrition provides the body all the essential macronutrients that it needs.

But why are dietary fats essential and what functions do they actually serve, once broken down in our digestive system?

Well, just to name a few:

  1. Nutrient absorption

  2. Regulation of inflammation

  3. Body temperature regulation

  4. Nerve function

  5. Brain function

  6. Satiety regulation

  7. Endocrine function

These are 7 of the most important functions of essential dietary fats and well, if your nutrition lacks those, it is likely that some of these bodily functions will be suboptimal.

Best Sources Of Dietary Fat

Because fats are more than twice as caloric as protein and carbs, and because fats in packaged food may be highly processed, we can reach one logical conclusion when we talk about fat intake and the best food sources.

Here’s that exact conclusion: To make the best out of your dietary fat intake, you should focus on the least processed, most natural fat sources.

Try to avoid these foods:

  1. Deep-fried foods

  2. Margarine

  3. Fast foods

  4. Processed foods

  5. Baked goods

Instead, focus on these sources of fat:

  1. Olive oil

  2. Fatty fish

  3. Red meat

  4. Nuts

  5. Avocados

  6. Dairy products

Now, you don’t necessarily have to include every single food on the list, but it would be a good idea to cherry-pick the ones you like most and making them your main sources of fat.

In doing so, you will provide the body everything that it needs, in order to sustain healthy functioning and have sufficient amounts of essential fatty acids.

Optimal fat intake forms at 0.35-0.45g of fat per lb. of body weight.

Take-Home Message

The number of essential fats and essential protein in your diet will determine the healthy functioning of your body, to a big extent.

This is why providing the body with those through food intake is of prime importance.

When it comes to fat intake, you should consider avoiding processed foods and instead, focus on natural sources of dietary fat, such as meat, fish, olive oil, avocados, and nuts.

In doing this, you will grant the body everything it needs to sustain the proper functioning of all bodily systems.

Got any more questions about fats? Comment down below and let us know.

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