Fat is bad for you. It will cause high cholesterol, high blood pressure and essentially lead to heart problems.
These are words we hear all the time, leading us to believe that all fat is bad for us. People begin to avoid anything that has the word “fat” on the food label. What they need to learn is that not all fat is bad. It is actually a very important nutrient our bodies need to function. We need it to absorb nutrients, provide us with energy, keep us warm and for several other reasons.
There are numerous types of fats, a reason why it is hard to keep them all straight and easier to just avoid them all in general. But that is a mindset that some individuals need to change to improve their overall health. Monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated and trans fats are of the fats we see on food labels. While saturated and trans fats should be avoided, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats should be emphasized.
Monounsaturated fats can be found in nuts, avocado, canola and olive oil. They are extremely beneficial for health because they lower total cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol). Low cholesterol is important for heart health. It is also known that these fats can help with weight loss. The best part is that you don’t need to eat a ton of monounsaturated fat containing foods to receive the benefits—a serving size will provide you with optimal nutrition.
Polyunsaturated fats also aid in lowering cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids belong to this group, and can be found in oils that come from seafood. They can decrease one’s risk for developing coronary artery disease, irregular heartbeats and high blood pressure. Polyunsaturated fatty acids can also be found in plant-based foods and oils that come from corn, soy and sunflower seeds. Having a diet rich in these fats may decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes .
Saturated fats come from animal sources (meat, dairy products). They do the complete opposite of what unsaturated fats do to our bodies. They raise cholesterol levels and increase one’s risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These are what contribute to weight gain and are increasingly becoming a problem because of fast food.
Trans fats are a huge concern. They are different because they usually do not occur in foods naturally—they are man made during food processing. The reason for this is to improve shelf lives and make foods easier to cook. However, they also increase total blood cholesterol levels and decrease HDL levels (“good” cholesterol). This significantly increases one’s risk for heart problems, obesity and diabetes.
So…now you know the differences between the fats. But how do you change your diet to increase your consumption of healthy fats and decrease unhealthy fats? The best way is to check and compare food labels. Instead of cooking with oils high in saturated and trans fats like palm oil or vegetable shortening, use canola, olive or flax seed oil. They are much higher in healthy fats and lower in unhealthy fats. Try your hardest to avoid processed, packaged foods as they are the most likely to contain trans fats. Choose lower fat versions of dairy products. For example, choose skim milk instead of whole milk.
Making small changes to your diet can make a big difference. Remember that just because a food contains fat doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unhealthy. Your body needs fat to function. Keep your fat consumption healthy and consistent and you won’t have any problems with weight gain/loss.
Brianna Elliott is a third year dietetics student and an author at PSCLife.com – the wise consumer’s choice for buying Cosamin ASU joint and muscle supplement. Brianna has grown a passion for nutrition during her years of studying and thinks it is interesting and important to learn about the differences between the types of fats. There are so many people out there looking for answers as to how to lose weight, lower their cholesterol, etc…and increasing their intake of healthy fats could actually be the answer!