Get The Skinny on Fat!

Good-Fats-Vs-Bad-Fats1

Good fats, bad fats… what is the difference?  But there is a difference, there are good fats and bad fats to look for in your diet.

Fat is the target of much scorn, yet it serves up health benefits you can’t live without.  Fat supplies essential fatty acids (EFAs).  Your body is incapable of producing EFAs, known as linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, so it must come from your diet.  In addition, fat carries vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are fat soluble vitamins, into and around the body.

Fat is also necessary for maintaining healthy skins, and plays an important role in promoting proper eyesight and brain develop in babies and children.

Although fat does good, it is usually the culprit in the battle of the bulge.  And it is easy to understand since fat contains 9 calories per gram.  Good fat or bad fat, it packs more than twice the calories per gram than carbohydrates and protein.  Yet, it’s a mistake to equate dietary fay with body fat.  You can get fat eating carbs and protein, even if you eat little dietary fat.  Excess calories from any source is what is responsible for weight gain, not fat per se.  If weight gain is your concern then watching your total calorie intake.

There is an established link between fat intake and heart disease and stroke.  Diets rich in saturated fat and trans fat, both “bad” fats, raise blood cholesterol concentrations, contributing to clogged arties that block the blood flow.

When it comes to fat quantity and quality count.  Make sure you read the labels on your food!

To understand the game, you need to know the players.  There are four major types of fats:

  • monounsaturated fats (good fats)
  • polyunsaturated fats (good fats)
  • trans fats (bad fats)
  • saturated fats (bad fats)
GOOD FATS
Monounsaturated fat Polyunsaturated fat
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
  • Peanut butter
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines)
  • Soymilk
  • Tofu

 

Saturated fats and trans fats are known as the “bad fats” because they increase your risk of disease and elevate cholesterol.

Appearance-wise, saturated fats and trans fats tend to be solid at room temperature (think of butter or traditional stick margarine), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be liquid (think of olive or corn oil).

BAD FATS
Saturated fat Trans fat
  • High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork)
  • Chicken with the skin
  • Whole-fat dairy products (milk and cream)
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Palm and coconut oil
  • Lard
  • Commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough
  • Packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips)
  • Stick margarine
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish)
  • Candy bars

If you are concerned about your weight or heart health, rather than avoiding fat in your diet, try replacing trans fats and saturated fats with good fats. This might mean replacing fried chicken with fresh fish, swapping some of the meat you eat with beans and legumes, or using olive oil rather than butter.

  • Try to eliminate trans fats from your diet. Check food labels for trans fats. Avoiding commercially-baked goods goes a long way. Also limit fast food.
  • Limit your intake of saturated fats by cutting back on red meat and full-fat dairy foods. Try replacing red meat with beans, nuts, poultry, and fish whenever possible, and switching from whole milk and other full-fat dairy foods to lower fat versions.
  • Eat omega-3 fats every day. Good sources include fish, walnuts, ground flax seeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil.

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