Good Fats vs Bad Fats
What foods should you eat that are good fats and which ones are bad fats, that is the question. It’s confusing, so I’m going to help you understand the basics so you can make better choices about what you’re consuming and your health.
There’s a misconception that cutting all fats completely out of your diet will lead to weight loss, this simply is not true. What does help in weight loss is cutting your calories, eating healthy foods, and increasing exercise.
There are several good fats that need to remain as an important part of your diet. When eaten in moderation, good fats can help the development and function of your brain, heart, and eyes, and can also help prevent stroke, heart disease, depression, and arthritis.
Fats can provide valuable energy to your body, are the building blocks of cell membranes, and assist in a variety of hormones and other functions. Good fats are carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins, aid in the absorption of minerals and the metabolism of sugar and insulin, and aid by slowing the absorption of nutrients into your system so you can go longer without feeling hungry.
The good fats considered to be the healthiest come from plants and are called unsaturated fats. This group of unsaturated fats are then broken into two categories, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. In general they help raise the good HDL cholesterol and lower the bad LDL cholesterol.
Monounsaturated fats include olive oil, safflower oil, avocados, nuts like almonds, peanuts, macadamia, hazelnuts, cashews, and pecans.
Polyunsaturated fats are also important because they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can decrease your risk of coronary artery disease. These include sunflower oil, walnuts, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, non-GMO soy, and fish including salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and trout (be sure to get wild caught, not farm raised to reduce mercury contamination).
The American Heart Association recommends that mostly unsaturated fats make up 25-35% of your daily diet, and only 7% of those should from the bad fat list.
Now for the fats that are considered bad fats. These fats are broken up into two different categories as well, saturated fats and trans fats.
Saturated fats need to be consumed in moderation as they raise good HDL cholesterol, but they also can raise bad LDL cholesterol. They can be found in animal products from beef, lamb, pork, and chicken skin, coconut oil, whole fat dairy (milk, cream), butter, lard, cheese, and ice cream.
Be sure to always avoid trans fats as they lower good HDL cholesterol and raise bad LDL cholesterol, a double negative that can increase your risk for heart disease. These can be found in processed baked goods (muffins, cookies, pie crusts, doughnuts, cakes, pizza dough), snack foods (crackers, chips, microwave popcorn), stick margarine, vegetable shortening, fried foods like French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, and candy bars.
The bottom line is that you need to be reading the labels when you go grocery shopping…the good fats can make you healthier and the bad fats can increase your risk for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other serious diseases. Hopefully this information will help you make an informed decision on what good fats to consume and what bad fats to avoid.
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