Distinguishing Between Good and Bad Fats

Distinguishing Between Good and Bad Fats

For years, people thought that all fats — unsaturated fat, saturated fat and trans fat — are bad and should be avoided. However, scientists discovered that fat is a very complex substance that requires more studies.

For certain metabolic processes, your physical body utilizes some types of fat to function optimally. So, yes, your body needs fats, the good ones. As for the bad ones, you need to avoid them. You’ll learn which ones are good or bad by reading the rest of this article.

The Good and Bad Fats

Clinical Nutritionist Alexa Schmitt of Massachusetts General Hospital states that mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good for the body; saturated fats are not so good but can be taken in moderation; and trans fats are absolutely bad for you, because they can increase your cholesterol levels. People who have high levels of cholesterol, particularly the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, are at risk of having heart disease, stroke and other health issues.

How do you know whether a particular food contains good or bad fats? Schmitt mentions this general rule about fats. A fat that is in liquid form at room temperature is better than a fat that is in semi-solid form. To cite an example, olive oil is better than butter or margarine.

Find below some ways how you can stay healthy by having unsaturated fats and avoiding trans fats in your meals.

Unsaturated Fats

Most nuts, avocados, canola oil and olive oil are good sources of mono-unsaturated fats.

Instead of the usual cream cheese on your bagel, use avocado as spread. For your mashed potatoes, substitute garlic and olive oil for butter and whole milk.

Polyunsaturated fats are of two types: omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Americans, in general, consume more omega-6 fats from vegetable oils, but lack omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats may be sourced from fish like tuna and salmon, walnuts and flaxseed.

To consume more omega-3 fats, eat a handful of walnuts for your snack. You could also add ground flaxseed to your breakfast cereals or oatmeal. Adding flaxseed to cookies and muffins when baking is also more healthful.

Saturated Fats

Many food products are high in saturated fats including red meat, dairy products (butter and cream), and thicker vegetable oils (kernel oil, coconut oil, palm oil).

It was already mentioned that saturated fats should be consumed in moderation. So, you don’t have to completely avoid steak. Eating it once or twice a week is okay, but be sure that your intake of saturated fats is limited to 10% of your diet.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are manufactured by mixing hydrogen into vegetable oil with the purpose of extending the shelf-life of packaged products, such as baked goods, crackers and cookies.

According to the current Food and Drug Administration guidelines, manufacturers can label products as “trans fat free” when the trans fats content is less than 0.5 grams per serving. When you see “hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated” oils on the list of ingredients on the food label, it means that the product most likely contains up to 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving. Should you eat more than 1 serving, you’re also increasing your intake of trans fats.

By reading this article, you are now more informed regarding what to look for when you go shopping at the grocery store. If you desire to be healthy and limit your intake of trans fats, it is best to focus on buying more fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and lean cuts of meat and fish. If you must buy oil, choose olive oil and canola oil.

Photo credits: By Vwalvekar (drew it Previously published: -) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Categories: Nutrition

Write a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*