It was once thought that fat in the diet was a bad thing. Fat has been deemed responsible for a range of diseases from cardiovascular disease to diabetes. It is true that over consumption of certain fats may lead to some diseases, but not all fats are created equal. That is, there are good fats, bad fats, and very bad fats. Let’s take a look:
These healthy unsaturated fats help fight the very diseases that the bad fats can cause. They are divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and both types are shown to have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels. Unsaturated ‘heart-healthy’ fats are found in cold-water fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), nuts, seeds, olive oil, canola oil, and avocados. Just remember that although these foods have healthy fats, they still have calories so follow their serving size!
These are what we know as the artery clogging fats that have been shown to raise cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are found in meat, poultry skin, dairy, chocolate, and coconut and palm oil. Saturated fats should be less than 10% of our total fat intake. Trans fats are the very bad fats as they not only raise the bad cholesterol but lower the good cholesterol. You can find Trans-fats not only by looking on the label, but looking for the word ’hydrogenated’ in the ingredient list. They are usually found in commercially processed products, fried foods, and bakery goods. These fats should be avoided as much as possible.
Moral of the story is to choose your fats wisely. Our body needs fat in the diet, so make the most of fats and be heart-healthy! For more information, check out: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/oils.html
By Anne Lorenc, Loyola University Dietetic Intern