Why your body needs fat

Fat keeps your body warm, provides you with energy, helps you absorb important vitamins, and is essential for your heart and brain health. 

In fact, every single cell in your body needs fat to function properly. And let’s not forget, fat makes food taste delicious. It’s the molecule that carries most of the flavor and mouthfeel — the sensation that you have while food is in your mouth. 

Fat is an important part of a healthy diet, but quality matters. How your body responds to the fats you eat is unique to you. 

ZOE runs the largest nutrition science study in the world, with over 20,000 participants so far. Our research shows that post-meal blood fat levels can vary by as much as 20-fold between people, even if they’ve eaten the same food. 

With the ZOE at-home test, we can analyze your blood fat and blood sugar responses to food, as well as your unique gut microbiome, to help you find the best foods for your body. 

You can take our free quiz to find out more.

Why is fat important?

Fat is actually not a single entity, but rather a large group of molecules with similar properties. The main type of fat in your diet is called triglycerides

After you eat, triglyceride molecules from your food travel through your blood to your organs and cells to carry out their various tasks. Any excess fat that your body doesn’t need straight away is stored in your fat cells. 

Fats play a number of crucial roles in your health. They are a dense source of energy, packing in more than twice as much per gram than carbs and proteins. Your body needs this energy to go about its everyday functions. 

But it doesn’t stop there — fat also keeps you warm. Without the fatty layer of insulation underneath your skin, you would have a hard time keeping the cold at bay.

And, as the name suggests, you need fat to absorb “fat-soluble” vitamins, like A, D, E, and K. Fat is also the main source of these vitamins.

Your body can make most — but not all — of the fats it needs.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fats, which means that your body can’t make them by itself. So, you must get them from your food. 

Crucially, omega-3 is important for your heart and brain health, and to keep your cells working properly. It’s also involved in blood clotting, inflammation, and wound healing. 

Which fats are best?

Not all fats are created equal. We’ve been taught that the health benefits of fat are rooted in whether they are saturated or unsaturated fats.

But foods are more than labels, and many of the things we eat contain a mixture of different types of fat. 

That’s why, based on the latest science, our experts at ZOE believe it’s more important to focus on the food source when it comes to fat quality. 

Highly processed foods with poor quality fats — like cookies, chocolate spreads, and microwave meals — and foods that are high in saturated fats — like red meat, bacon, and sausages — aren’t great for your body, especially if you eat a lot of these foods and very often. 

Good quality fats like high oleic sunflower, soybean, extra virgin olive oil, and those in nuts, seeds, and avocados are great choices to include in your diet. 

Seed oils sometimes get a bad rap, but evidence shows this is related to the foods they're often added to, like highly processed foods, rather than the oils themselves

For a dose of omega-3 fatty acids, look to foods like oily fish, flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds. 

How much fat is best for your body is unique to you. With the ZOE at-home test kit, you can find out how your blood fat and blood sugar levels respond to food, as well as which bugs you currently have in your gut microbiome. 

With our personalized nutrition program, you can find the best foods — including fat — for your body and your long-term health goals.

You can take our free quiz to find out more.