We use fats not only for energy, but also hormone production, cell membrane synthesis, brain and nervous system health, absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K and phytonutrients, and as a source of essential omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (1).
Omega-3 fatty acids – particularly those from fatty fish – have been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and depression (2, 3, 4, 5).
Omega-6 fatty acids – found in nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils like sunflower, corn, cottonseed, and soybean oils – are linked to basically the opposite effects of omega-3’s, but it’s not clear if high omega-6, high omega-6:omega-3 ratio, or low omega-3 intake drives these effects (6, 7, 8).
Artificial trans fats – hydrogenated vegetable oils used in baked goods, margarine, and other oils and spreads – have been linked to systemic inflammation, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, Alzheimer’s, and cognitive decline (11, 12, 13).
If you prioritize nutrient dense, minimally processed foods like beef, lamb, eggs, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, fatty fish a few times a week, and quality oils, your fat intake will likely be working for you, not against you.
Aim to get at least 20 – 35% of your calories from fat (21).
You might start by incorporating fattier cuts of meat, eggs, or a thumb-sized serving or two of nuts or quality oils with each meal.
From there, dial your fat intake up and down to find what works best for you.
You’ve got this.