When one is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it impacts many aspects of day-to-day life. The way one thinks about diet, exercise, sugar, and everything else associated with one’s body requires consideration. While type 2 diabetes has many implications for the level of sugar and carbohydrates in one’s diet, it is also important to think about micro and macronutrients consumed as well, and this includes fat.
This article will look at why fats are essential to our bodies as well as how they can be incorporated into meals for optimal type 2 diabetes treatment.
What is fat, and why is it important?
Along with carbohydrates and proteins, fats are a type of macronutrient. The fact that we eat is typically a compound of different fatty acids. It is essential to the human body as it performs several vital functions, including:
- Composing the membrane that surrounds and protects our cells.
- Being used by our bodies to store energy.
- Keeping our cholesterol and blood pressure under control.
- Essential to helping our body absorb vital nutrients, such as those from fruits and vegetables.
Types of Fats
There are three main types of fat. Saturated and unsaturated fats are natural, while trans fats are artificial. Saturated fats are primarily found in animal and dairy products and some plant oils. In small quantities, saturated fats promote a well-balanced diet. However, too much can be unhealthy for the heart and overall blood circulation. Since type 2 diabetes adversely impacts blood flow, doctors recommend limiting daily fat intake to about 15 grams. An intake of lean meat is therefore recommended for most days while avoiding full-fat dairy, cheese, and processed foods.
Unsaturated fats are generally regarded by nutritionists and doctors to be the healthiest of all fats. It is found in many healthy foods, including fish, avocado, nuts, olive oil, and more. Unsaturated fat is healthier than other fats as it boosts your Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “good” cholesterol, whereas saturated fat increases High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “bad” cholesterol. Unsaturated fats also help your body regulate its blood sugar and can therefore aid those with type 2 Diabetes.
Trans fats are fats that have been formed in the industrial process. Not only do they raise your levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which can clog your arteries, but they also decrease your HDL or “good” cholesterol, which collects excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver to be processed. Most foods containing trans fats are also high in sugar and carbs, and therefore are critical to be avoided for those with type 2 diabetes.
How much fat do I need if I have type 2 diabetes?
While everyone’s dietary needs vary, the following recommendations are relatively standard based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet:
- Unsaturated fats: approximately 65 grams daily, with no more than about 20 grams from polyunsaturated fat
- Saturated fats: no more than 15 grams daily
- Trans fats: If you have type 2 diabetes, you should strive to eliminate trans fats from your diet entirely or eat them only very rarely.
If you have type 2 diabetes and you need to lose weight to improve your overall health, then you’ll need to make adjustments to the above amounts according to your caloric intake. We’ve provided a general breakdown of the percentages of total calories that fats should represent in your diet, but these may require modification according to your needs.
- Total fats: 25% to 35% of daily caloric intake
- Monounsaturated fats: approximately 20%
- Polyunsaturated fats: about 10%
- Saturated fats: no more than 7%
- Trans fats: 0%
If all of this seems confusing, don’t fret. You don’t need an advanced degree in nutrition to eat the right amount of the right fats from the right foods. Let’s look at some of these good sources of fats that are ideal for people with type 2 diabetes.
Food Sources of Healthy Fats for People with Type 2 Diabetes
Good sources of monounsaturated fats:
- Liquid plant oils, especially olive, sesame, and peanut
- Nuts, especially almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia, peanuts, and pecans
- Peanut butter, but be sure to buy natural peanut butter with no sugar added
Good sources of polyunsaturated fats:
- Fish, especially albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, salmon, and trout
- Seeds, such as sunflower seeds and flax seeds
- Oils such as soybean oil, safflower oil, and corn oil
Primary sources of saturated fats:
- Fatty meat, especially from mammals (pork, beef, lamb, and so on)
- Dairy products, especially full-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, and more
- Baked goods
- Butter and other hard fats
Fats are an essential part of everyone’s diet, regardless of other medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes. Talk to a suitable specialist today about what is best for your diet.