Saturated fat from butter and other animal products can contribute to high cholesterol.
Dietary fats, or lipids, are essential for maintaining the health of your skin and preventing chronic disease, but consuming too much of the wrong type of fat can lead to weight gain or heart disease. When comparing the advantages and disadvantages of eating fat, consider your weight, caloric intake and health goals and concerns. Eating the recommended amount of fat from a variety of healthy sources will meet your body's need for the essential nutrient.
Fats are a concentrated source of energy, containing 9 calories per gram. In contrast, protein and carbohydrates contain only 4 calories per gram. This can be looked at as an advantage or disadvantage, depending on your current weight and weight goals. If you want to gain weight, fat provides extra calories without requiring you to eat a large volume of food. Just adding 1 tablespoon of most oils will give you an additional 120 calories. However, if weight loss is your goal, high-calorie fat can make reaching your goals more difficult. Any time you eat excess calories from fat or other nutrients, they are stored in fat cells to supply future energy needs, according to "Contemporary Nutrition Issues and Insights."
While too much fat can be detrimental to your health, some dietary fat is essential. The American Heart Association recommends that 25 to 35 percent of your daily caloric intake come from fat. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that's 56 to 78 grams of fat per day. You need this fat in your intestines to help absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from food. These vitamins play a role in maintaining healthy skin, bones, teeth and eyes and are needed for proper blood clotting. In addition, your body uses fat to provide protection to your internal organs and act as insulation to help regulate your body temperature.
Typically liquid at room temperature, advantageous monounsaturated fats provide you with vitamin E and selenium. These two nutrients act as antioxidants that may reduce your risk of inflammation, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke. These healthy fats come from nuts, seeds and vegetable oils, including almond, walnut, cashew, peanut and flaxseed oils.
Saturated and Trans Fats
While some fat are beneficial to your heart health, while others, such as saturated fat and trans fat, are detrimental. A high intake of disadvantageous saturated and trans fats can lead to elevated low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol levels, which may increase your risk of developing heart disease. These fats may also contribute to obesity, diabetes and cancer, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Saturated fat comes from animal sources, such as beef, butter and dairy fat. Trans fat is found in processed foods such as cookies, cakes and crackers. For a 2,000-calorie diet, the American Heart Association recommends eating less than 16 grams of saturated fat and less than 2 grams of trans fat.
Omega Fatty Acids
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential nutrients that your body is unable to produce on its own, so they must come from your diet. Omega fatty acids play a role in brain function, mood, vision and reproductive health, making them advantageous for your health. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation and your risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Consume omega-3 fats in the form of salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines at least twice a week, suggests UMMC. A precursor to omega-3s called alpha linolenic acid is found in walnuts, flaxseed, soy oil and canola oil. Omega-6 fatty acids are needed in smaller amounts than omega-3s and come from corn, safflower, soybean, evening primrose, borage and black currant seed oils.