You've been told for years how bad fats can be for your heart, your waist and your overall health. So naturally, besides an avocado here or a little olive oil there, you've pretty much eliminated it from your diet altogether. Fat, it turns out, can actually be your your best friend when you're trying to shed a few pounds.

A few fun facts about fat:

  • Fat is a macronutrient, a basic component of every diet, which means you need it!
  • Fats help you absorb important vitamins, such as A, D and E so if your diet doesn't contain healthy fats, chances are you're not absorbing these key nutrients.
  • Fats are vital for your nervous system.
  • Eating fats may also reduce your chance of developing heart disease.

So how does eating fat help you lose weight? Simple. It boosts the liver's function of releasing fat so that it's more readily available to burn fat.

Yes, you need fat to burn fat.

The key: choose the good-for-you fats and limit the bad kinds.

Unsaturated fats, such as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, are the "good" fats. They help raise good (HDL) cholesterol and lower bad (LDL) cholesterol. They protect against plaque building up in your arteries. And according to research, unsaturated fats also help prevent belly fat. Additionally, these healthy fats may help boost brain function, strengthen the immune system and improve your mood! These healthy fats pack a mighty punch when it comes to your total health!

So what kinds of fats are "good for you"?

  • Olives
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Nut butters
  • Avocados
  • Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel
  • Flaxseeds
  • Walnuts

Surprisingly, ingestion of some saturated fats may help improve total fat loss, too. How? Saturated fat encourages healthy liver function, which in turn helps your body burn more fat. In fact, low carb diets high in saturated fat can actually lead to more weight loss than low-fat diets. The key here is to select organic sources, especially for butter, beef, pork and chicken.

Try to stay away from trans fat, which are typically found in fried foods like French fries, doughnuts and chips.

Which healthy fats do you eat regularly to maintain a healthy weight? Tell us in the comments section below.