The Misunderstood Macronutrient

by Dr. Shonna Babrow-Goodrich
July 14, 2017

Protein, Carbohydrates, and…

FAT – the misunderstood macronutrient. There are many types of fat, Trans-fat, Saturated fat, Polyunsaturated fat, Monounsaturated fat, Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9; no wonder our heads begin to spin when trying to decipher what is good for us versus what is bad. But, how did fat become the misunderstood macronutrient?  Many people are confused about fat! Why? Partly because the media and science tend to conflict with one another over fat. As a result, this dis-cord leaves the consumer wondering which type should we be eating more of – and which type we should avoid. We will begin our dissection by first discussing what fat is. 

What is Fat?

Fat is a dietary component vital to human growth and development. Moreover, without fat, we cannot survive because it is an essential part of many physiological functions, including acting as a source of energy, assisting with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), and maintaining healthy skin and cell membrane structure.Your body uses fat to make a variety of other building blocks needed for everything from hormones to immune function. By contrast, what contributed to this misunderstanding?

The Low Fat Movement

The 1980’s was the beginning of the low fat movement. In lieu of this, food manufacturers started to reduce fat in their products, labeling them as ‘low fat’ only to increase the amount of carbohydrates from refined grains, sugar, and other starches. Our bodies digest these refined carbohydrates and starches very quickly, affecting blood sugar and insulin levels possibly resulting in weight gain and disease. Therefore, we ended up over indulging in carbohydrates, only to realize we need to move to a place where we understand that within each macronutrient category, there are “good” and “bad” types of the nutrient.

Calming the Fear

Historically, fear has been associated with fat for two reasons – the idea that fat increased the risk of heart disease and because fat has more calories (energy) than protein or carbohydrates. Fat has nine calories per gram, protein and carbs have four.To assist with calming some of the fears, health professionals began to counsel patients to look for foods containing good fats while maintaining the “in moderation” message. It is about choosing the “good” fats that matters. The result has been a steady increase of appreciation for fat in our diets. In time, we began to make the shift from fear to understanding.

Fear to Understanding

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that healthy adults should consume 20 to 35 percent of daily calories from fat. Additionally, the guidelines recommend limiting saturated fat to less than 10 percent of calories, avoiding trans fat, and replacing these fats with unsaturated fats, primarily polyunsaturated fats. Research suggests that eating unsaturated fats in place of trans and saturated fat (the “bad” fats), has lowered risks of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. In fact, some evidence suggests omega-3, a type of polyunsaturated fat, is important for brain development in infants and young children and may potentially help with cognition as we age.

Healthy Eating Habits

Quality choices are a direct execution of developing healthy eating habits. We have come to appreciate that we need to get the most nutrition possible for the calories we consume. Getting more healthy fat in our diet is no exception. Fat has many roles in the human body, therefore, we need to have this essential macronutrient in our eating habits.

Supplementing Macronutrients

When dietary efforts are insufficient supplementing may be necessary. The absorption levels of the triglyceride form of fish oils found in Aceva’s  Omega 3 Plus are up to 51% greater than ethyl ester fish oils. In addition, Omega 3 Plus does not contain toxins such as mercury and lead commonly found in fish. Omega 3 Plus is encapsulated in a nitrogen environment to minimize oxidation and maintain potency. 

                         The Skinny on Fats Reference Guide


[1] Trans Fats

[2] The Best Sources of Monounsaturated Fat

[3] Heart Disease and Diet

[4] Fats and Cholesterol

Dr. Shonna Babrow-Goodrich
Dr. Shonna Babrow-Goodrich

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