Most everyone loves the taste of fat foods! And current scientific evidence is clear – there are good fats and bad fats. So, the fat in foods is not just about whether or not it’s "fattening."
All fats, the good, the bad and the ugly, affect your heart in one way or another. Food fat either contributes to a happy healthy heart or causes heart failure and death – it’s your choice!
And some of the good healthy fats can even help you to lose weight.
If you're having trouble digesting some of the bad fat, good fat, food fat details, you're certainly not alone. Although there's still plenty of good fat vs bad fat, food fat confusion, scientists now realize that there are both extremely healthy fats as well as extremely unhealthy fats.
What are Good Fats vs Bad Fats?
It’s no wonder you’re confused. After all, too much saturated fat or any trans-fat at all in your diet is clearly a disaster waiting to happen. While on the other hand, the good healthy "essential" fatty acids are necessary for optimum physical, mental and emotional health.
So, to clear up the fat food confusion, here's your list of good fat, bad fat, food fat facts:
Trans Fatty Acids,
These are the real bad fat boys. Since trans-fats have been shown to raise artery-clogging LDL (bad) cholesterol and cause breast cancer, they should be totally eliminated from your diet.
Trans-fats are created when processed vegetable oils are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. Food sources include candy, cakes, pies, cookies, pastries, crackers, cereals, deep fried foods, fatty meat from beef and sheep, soups, margarine and some salad dressings.
Even though saturated fat can be beneficial in small amounts and add flavor to foods, in large quantities saturated fat has been shown to clog arteries and cause other cardiovascular health problems. So saturated fat should make up no more than about 10% of your calorie intake.
Saturated fat comes mainly from animal foods like beef, pork, lamb, butter, cheese, cream and other full-fat and low-fat dairy products. It's also found in tropical palm and coconut oils.
These are the source of essential fatty acids. They used to be ranked highest on the food fat list. But now that fat is better understood, polyunsaturated fats are known to be a mixed bag.
The reason is clear. Now days most people get far too much of the non-nutritious polyunsaturated omega 6 fat from highly refined purified vegetable oils. This throws off their optimum balance of omega 3 fatty acids compared to omega 6 fatty acids.
It's best to use monounsaturated olive oil for salads and cooking and get your omega 6 essential fatty acids from whole food sources. These include 100% whole wheat, brown rice and other whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans, especially soybeans, sunflower seeds and walnuts.
The monounsaturated fatty acids help protect you from heart disease by lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol and raising good (HDL) cholesterol. The best source is extra virgin olive oil. Other good sources include olives, almonds, peanuts, pecans, hazelnuts, avocados and pumpkin and sesame seeds.
Omega 3 with EPA and DHA
Even though it's technically polyunsaturated, omega 3 with EPA and DHA is considered to be in a class by itself. This is because of the exceptional omega 3 EPA and DHA health benefits, which include reducing your risk for depression, arthritis, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and protection from many other painful and serious diseases.
The best sources of omega 3 with EPA and DHA are salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, trout, anchovies and good quality omega 3 fish oil capsules.
Note: Plant sources of omega 3, like walnuts and flaxseeds, do NOT contain EPA and DHA.
Remember that all fats, good or bad, have 9 calories per gram. So even though omega 3 fish oil and olive oil are both great for your heart and bacon fat is terrible, each fat gram adds the same amount of calories. For my low-calorie omega 3 recommendation, go to the fish oil website.
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Note: The information contained on this website is not intended to be prescriptive. Any attempt to diagnose or treat an illness should come under the direction of a physician who is familiar with nutritional therapy.