There is a lot of confusion about fat in our diet. In the old days, people thought that all fat was bad for you. Now, we are starting to learn about the good fats...
There is a lot of confusion about fat in our diet. In the old days, people thought that all fat was bad for you. Now, we are starting to learn about the good fats. But lots of folks are still confused about healthy (good) fats and unhealthy (bad) fats and which ones to eat and which ones to avoid. So let's try to clear this fat issue up a bit.
Fats are not all created equal. Some fats that are rich in Omega-3's can help you to lose weight; while other kinds of fat can harm your heart. A no fat diet would ruin the health of your body, so we need to eat some fats to stay healthy, but what kinds?
The good fats which are called unsaturated fats help to protect your heart. These fats are monounsaturated fats (MUFAS) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAS). They are called HDL fats and "good" cholesterol. These fats come in a liquid form at room temperature.
Good sources of these fats can be found in olive oil, canola, corn, soybean and safflower oils. Foods that contain these healthy fats include avocados, nuts (including peanuts), fish, especially salmon and flaxseeds. Nutrition experts say that we should try to eat at least one serving of an omega-3-rich food (the goods fats) each day.
The bad fats also come in two forms: saturated and transfat. Both are called LDL or "lousy" or "bad" fat and cholesterol. These fats are solid at room temperature and are found in red meats, bacon, whole milk and cheeses. These foods taste yummy but they also clog your arteries. One of the easiest and quickest ways to lower your cholesterol and protect yourself from heart disease is to cut back on these harmful fats.
But we're not looking to eliminate all fats from our diet. Simply replace some of the saturated fatty foods with foods that have mostly unsaturated fats in them. The easiest way to do this is by reading all of the labels on the foods that you buy. And remember that red meat has the "bad" fat while fish contains the "good" fat. Another substitute for red meat is chicken, preferably baked or grilled, not fried. Nutrition experts say that if you get 15% of your daily calories from saturated fat, just by replacing 5% of these unhealthy fats with unsaturated fats you'll drop your risk of a heart attack or dying from heart disease by 40%!
The 2nd "bad" fat is called transfat. This kind of fat is so dangerous that it not only raises your bad LDL cholesterol levels it also lowers your good HDL cholesterol! Not even saturated fats can do that. The reason this fat is so bad is because of the processing procedure. It starts out as a good fat but through complicated processing chemistry it becomes a very bad man-made fat. Manufacturers typically add hydrogen to these good fats though a process known as hydrogenation. Then these good fats turn into saturated and transfat.
Some tips to remember when choosing good fats for your diet:
1.) Read all food labels. The words "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" or "vegetable shortening" means the food contains man-made transfat. Avoid these.
2.) Buy or make your own healthier butter. Land O Lakes Light Butter with Canola Oil contains 50% less fat and calories than regular butter. Or whip up your own healthy butter mixture (it's cheaper). Use one portion of softened butter and an equal amount of olive oil or canola oil. Whip these two ingredients in a bowl with an electric mixer until soft and smooth. Store in an airtight plastic container in the fridge and enjoy the butter taste on your food with less of the harmful fat of regular butter.
3.) Use liquid fats. Cook with olive, canola or corn oil whenever you can instead of using shortening, whole butter or margarine. These liquid fats (oils) are mostly unsaturated while the sold fats are mostly saturated or transfat.
4.) Drastically reduce your fried food intake. Unsuspecting foods such as store-bought baked goods like cookies, crackers and muffins can contain a high amount of transfat, while fried foods served in fast-food restaurants are equally as bad.
Your best bet in eating healthy and avoiding these dangerous fats while consuming the good ones are to eat more foods in their natural, unprocessed state. Avoid the pre-packaged foods, baked and fried goodies and stick to lots of produce and healthy oils.
Hopefully this cleared up some of the confusion about good fat vs. bad fat and will start you on to a life-time of healthy eating!