For years, fats have been demonized. Fats have been blamed for everything from high cholesterol to the obesity epidemic, and the information we’ve gotten over the years has been confusing. In this two part series, we’re going to look at fats—the good and the bad, why we need them, how much we should eat, and where we should get them from. With that in mind, here’s the skinny on fat.

Your body needs fat

Fat is what we call a macronutrient. This means that we need relatively large amounts of it in our diets—grams rather than milligrams. Fat plays a role in a huge number of body processes, from hormone production to eyesight. It is a key component in cell membranes, the outer walls of every cell in your body.  It carries fat-soluble vitamins like A, D and E around your body and gets them where they’re needed. It’s also important for healthy skin, and is a key nutrient for babies and toddlers with growing brains.

Fat gives food flavor

When low-fat and fat-free products saturated the market, our waistlines, rather than shrinking, expanded. Why? Because fat is one of the things which gives food flavor (and texture) so removing the fat meant food manufacturers had to substitute something else—usually sugar—to add flavor back in.

Flavor comes from volatile chemical compounds in foods, and fat affects how they are released in our mouths. Fat also affects how foods feel, which is also important and plays a role in not just what we eat but how we eat.

Fat doesn’t make you fat

While fat had gotten a bad rap as a culprit in obesity, dietary fat doesn’t equate to body fat. It’s not fat itself that’s the problem, it’s the calories it contains. Fat is very energy-dense; that is, it has a lot of calories per gram. Where one gram of carbohydrate has four calories, one gram of fat has a whopping nine. So, it’s easy to take in a lot of calories when you eat fatty foods.

Here’s the takeaway for part one: your body needs fat. If you eat too low-fat, you suffer health problems. Fat makes food taste good, it makes you feel fuller, and it doesn’t make you fat. In part two, we’ll look at the different kinds of dietary fat and what we should be eating.

Good Fat vs Bad Fat will be continued next week. Follow Active Health #activehlth @activehlth for more advice on nutrition, chiropractic care, acupuncture and optimum health.

Active Health Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Rehabilitation and Nutrition Center is located in Park Ridge, IL. Their integrative approach to alternative therapies focuses on a whole body wellness plan – Holistic Medicine. Dr. Panopoulos and Dr. Stasinos are available for appointments 6 days a week. Call (847) 739-3120‎ or visit their website at Most insurance plan accepted.