Fat is good! I know that can sound scary but all health and nutrition experts agree that good fats are what our bodies need and always choosing low-fat is just not a healthy option.

Why not? When food is lower in fat, it’s most often full of artificial ingredients or extra sugars. That’s not what we need for a well-balanced diet. Our bodies want real fat, we crave fat, it even keeps us fuller. Fats also help keep our skin soft and supple, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, are vital for our nervous systems and give us energy. 25%-30% of our daily calories actually need to come from fat. But again, we’re talking healthy fats, not artery-clogging trans fats and saturated fats.

Monounsaturated Fats

This type of fat helps fight belly fat, protect against plaque in our arteries, raise HDL and lower LDL. Find monounsaturated fats in avocados, olives, olive oil, peanuts and peanut butter, cashews, almonds and sesame seeds.

Polyunsaturated Fats

These fats contain omega 3 fatty acids which strengthen our immune systems, boost brain function, even boost mood, as well as lower LDL. Find them in fish like mackerel, herring salmon, flaxseed, eggs, chicken fed an omega 3 rich diet, tofu and walnuts.

Saturated Fats

In the past it was encouraged to avoid all the “bad” fats such as butter, dairy and coconut oil. Now some experts agree that these fats, while high in saturated content, can be healthy in small amounts and especially when used in real food cooking with no artificial ingredients.

Coconut oil is the real exception in this area-it used to be thought of as unhealthy but new research shows that it actually is a healthy fat (again, in moderation) and a newer “trendy” oil that many people use for everything from cooking to skin care. Coconut oil is said to raise metabolism and possibly offer heart and cholesterol benefits but as a saturated fat, should be no more than 7% of daily calorie intake.

Trans Fats

These are the fats you want to avoid! Chemically altered unsaturated fat made to increase shelf life, trans fats raise your bad cholesterol, lower your good HDL’s and keep the body in a state of inflammation. Eating packaged foods, donuts, French fries, crackers, cookies and snack mixes from a box are general no-no’s in terms of food quality and bad fat content even if labeled “low fat“. Look for the words “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” and avoid these products like the plague. There are many ways to make your snacks healthier by choosing fresh fruits and veggies or cooking a healthier homemade “real” ingredient cake or cookie using coconut or olive oil.

Learn to love fats and you’ll see your skin glow, and your belly will stay fuller on good healthy foods. Avocado anyone?