Which Fats Are Good Fats?

Which Fats Are Good Fats?

It’s always been drilled into our heads that fat is bad and we should avoid it at all costs. But some kinds of fat can actually lower your cholesterol and improve your health. But what kinds of fats are they and how can we incorporate them into our diets? Here’s a quick breakdown of each type of fat you’ll find in your food.

Monounsaturated Fats
Good or bad? 
Good.

Why? 

Monounsaturated fats are healthy because they not only lower your LDL cholesterol levels (the bad kind), but they may also raise your HDL cholesterol levels (the good kind).  

Where are they found?
You can find monounsaturated fats in many kinds of oil, including olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, peanut oil, corn oil, avocado oil, tea seed oil, grapeseed oil, and more.  You can also find them in avocados, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, and pistachios.  Some whole grains contain monounsaturated fats, as well.

Here are some recipes that contain monounsaturated fats:
Avocado Burritos
Garlic Rosemary Olive Oil
Toasted Walnuts

Polyunsaturated Fats
Good or bad?

Good.

Why?
Polyunsaturated fats can help lower your LDL cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.  In addition, they often provide your body with important omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. 

Where are they found?
Polyunsaturated fats are found in oily fish, such as salmon and trout.  Fish oil supplements contain polyunsaturated fats, as well.  Besides fish oil, you’ll find these kinds of fats in sunflower oil, corn oil, and soybean oil, amongst others.  Some foods that contain monounsaturated fats also contain polyunsaturated fats, such as nuts and other oils. 

Here are some recipes that contain polyunsaturated fats:
Salmon with Brown Mustard and Olive Oil
Grilled Trout with Apricot Salsa
Strawberry Macadamia Salad



Saturated fats
Good or bad? 
Bad.

Why?
Saturated fats raise your LDL cholesterol levels, which can result in heart disease or stroke.  Correlations between saturated fat and some types of cancer have been reported, as well. 

Where are they found?
Saturated fats are primarily found in animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs and seafood.  Some plant oils, namely coconut oil and palm oil, contain saturated fat, as well. 

How can I avoid them?
If you regularly consume red meat, try to cut down your intake.  You could change the way you eat meat, as well.  If you usually fry your food, try grilling it instead.  Also, avoid food that is covered in cheese or cream-based sauces.  Pick broth or tomato-based sauces or soups instead, and use reduced-fat cheese in your cooking. 


Trans fats

Good or bad?
Bad.

Why?
Trans fats are created when liquid oils are hydrogenated.  This kind of fat is very dangerous because it not only raises your LDL cholesterol levels, but it also lowers your HDL cholesterol levels.  This makes it a double threat.  Higher LDL cholesterol levels can result in coronary heart disease, the number one killer in America.  Trans fats have also been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and infertility, but these correlations are still being researched.

Where are they found?
Because hydrogenated oils increase the shelf life of food products, you can find trans fats in many processed foods.  You can find them in cookies, crackers, margarine, French fries, and pizza, amongst other foods.

How can I avoid them? Read the labels on your food and try to avoid trans fats as much as possible.  The American Heart Association says to limit the amount of trans fats you eat to less than 1 percent of your total daily calories.  Also, do your best to cut back on the amount of processed or fried foods you consume. 


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