Good Fats, Bad Fats

The body processes fats in a very complex way, which means that the classical wisdom that categorizes all fats as bad is not actually true.  Whether trans fat, unsaturated fat or saturated fat, the body needs some of these fats to maintain normal body functions. But considering a healthy body, then only specific types of fats should be consumed while others should be ignored. You might want to ask, which fats are good and which ones are bad?

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Medical experts recommend the use of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats because they are healthy. However, saturated fats are also useful to the body but should be consumed in a moderate way as explained by Alexa Schmitt, RD, a Massachusetts-based Clinical Nutritionist at The Massachusetts General Hospital. Schmitt also emphasized that trans fats should not be consumed because they have a tendency of raising the level of cholesterol in the body.

Certain low-density lipoproteins cholesterol is a major source of heart disease, stroke, and other health complications. Determining which type of fats are good or bad does not need a lab test, Schmitt acclaims that those fats that are solid or semi-liquid such as margarine or butter are not good while those that are liquid at room temperature such as olive oils are good fats.

A clear explanation of opting for better diet with unsaturated fats and low trans fat content is as follows:

Monounsaturated Fat

You can obtain these healthy fats from natural sources such as avocados, olive oils, nuts, canola oil etc.

Tip. When preparing a bagel, spread some avocado instead of cream cheese and also when adding flavors to mashed potatoes, use garlic and olive oil in place of butter.

Polyunsaturated Fat

This is another form of unsaturated healthy fats. They are categorized into two types namely, omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats. You will probably get plenty of omega-6 fats from your daily vegetable oils but omega-3 fats are rare. Schmitt advice people to obtain omega-3 fats from some fish such as tuna or salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed.

Tip. When preparing for your morning cereal or oatmeal, add in a handful of walnuts or if you have flaxseed, then add a tablespoon. In some cases where you bake some cookies or muffins, remember to boost your omega intake by adding ground flaxseed to the recipe.

Saturated Fat

Saturated fats include a variety of sources that are common to almost everyone. These includes salami, red meat, dairy products, coconut oil and kernel oil.

Tip. You can take some little steak though you should strive to keep the fat content as low as 10% in your diet.

Trans Fat

Hydrogenation is the process of adding hydrogen to oils in order to solidify and hence have a longer shelf life. Any hydrogenated fats are actually trans fats. The major source of trans fat is cookies, processed foods, crackers, etc.

Tip. Governmental regulators such as Food and Drug Administration permits food processors and manufacturers to state that their products do not contain trans fat and if it does contain, the maximum allowable quantity should be 0.5 grams per every serving. When you buy any processed food, you should take some time to observe whether the food is labeled partially hydrogenated or just hydrogenated. If you are tempted to buy one, make sure you donít consume more regularly as they would accumulate with time.

The Bottom Line

When purchasing food, be vigilant and have some useful information about the foods you eat including their hazards. The best place to do a healthy shopping is within the bounds of grocery stores. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, whole grains, olive oil and some lean cut meat and you are ready to go.