Fats provide energy, regulate hormones, carry and store fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), help the cells of our bodies to maintain stiffness and integrity, and so much more. Fats are usually associated with weight gain and heart disease, but that isn’t necessarily directly linked to dietary fat consumption. There are different types of fats; there are types that are essential to our diets and some we should try to limit or avoid.
Typically unsaturated fats are considered the “good” fats, while saturated fats/trans fats are considered the “bad” sources of fat. Our body needs both in respective amounts so using “good” and “bad” may not be the best terminology, but knowing the difference will help you make better food choices.
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good fats”, because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and your overall health. Studies show that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats improve blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease.
There are two types of polyunsaturated fats that are essential (meaning our bodies cannot make them, so we must eat them) which are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids; these two fatty acids are necessary for the formation of healthy cell membranes, proper development and functioning of the brain and nervous system, and hormone production. Omega-6s are abundant in a lot of foods, and we don’t need to worry about consuming them. Omega-3 fatty acids are the ones we need to worry about consuming, because they are found in fewer foods. A few foods high in omega-3s are: salmon, tuna, trout, oysters, chia seeds, and flax seed.
High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork)
Chicken with the skin
Whole-fat dairy products
Fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish …)
Packaged snack food (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips …)
Commercially-baked pastries (cookies, doughnuts, muffins …)
Excessive consumption of saturated and a trans fats are associated with atherosclerosis and heart diseases. They increase LDL (low density lipoproteins, bad cholesterol). Saturated and trans fats are found in palm oil, coconut oil, vegetable oil, refined carbohydrates (white sugar and flour), cheese, butter, and red meat. Appearance-wise, saturated fats and trans fats tend to be solid at room temperature (think of a traditional stick of butter).
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The information contained within this program is for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider for any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.