The battle of Good Fats Vs Bad Fats….


A walk down the grocery aisle will confirm our obsession with low-fat foods. We’re constantly bombarded with supposedly guilt-free options like: baked potato chips, fat-free ice cream, low-fat candies, cookies, and cakes. But while our low-fat options have exploded, so have obesity rates. Clearly, low-fat foods and diets haven’t delivered on their trim, healthy promises.

Now despite what you may or may not have been told, fat isn’t always the bad guy in the waistline wars. Bad fats, such as saturated fats and trans fats, are guilty of the unhealthy things all fats have been blamed for—weight gain, clogged arteries, and so forth. But good fats such as the monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3 have the opposite effect.

Healthy fats play a huge role in helping you manage your moods, stay on top of your mental game, fight fatigue, and even control your weight.

The key isn’t to cut out the fat but instead it’s learning to make healthy choices and to replace bad fats with good ones that promote health and well-being.

So here’s some Myths and facts about fats

Myth: All fats are equal—and equally bad for you.

Fact: Saturated fats and trans fats are bad for you because they raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease. But monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are good for you, lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease.

Myth: Lowering the amount of fat you eat is what matters the most.

Fact: The mix of fats that you eat, rather than the total amount in your diet, is what matters most when it comes to your cholesterol and health. The key is to eat more good fats and less bad fats.

Myth: Fat-free means healthy.

Fact: A “fat-free” label doesn’t mean you can eat all you want without consequences to your waistline. Many fat-free foods are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and calories.

Myth: Eating a low-fat diet is the key to weight loss.

Fact: The obesity rates for Americans have doubled in the last 20 years, coinciding with the low-fat revolution. Cutting calories is the key to weight loss, and since fats are filling, they can help curb overeating.

Myth: All body fat is the same.

Fact: Where you carry your fat matters. The health risks are greater if you tend to carry your weight around your abdomen, as opposed to your hips and thighs. A lot of belly fat is stored deep below the skin surrounding the abdominal organs and liver, and is closely linked to insulin resistance and diabetes.

Types of dietary fat: Good fats vs. bad fats

To understand good and bad fats, you need to know the names of the players and some information about them. There are four major types of fats:

  1. monounsaturated fats
  2. polyunsaturated fats
  3. saturated fats
  4. trans fats

Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good fats” because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and your overall health.

GOOD FATS

Monounsaturated fat    Polyunsaturated fat
Olive oil Soybean oil
Canola oil Corn oil
Sunflower oil Safflower oil
Peanut oil Walnuts
Sesame oil Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
Avocados Flaxseed
Olives Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines)
Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews) Soymilk
Peanut butter Tofu

Saturated fats and trans fats are known as the “bad fats” because they increase your risk of disease and elevate cholesterol.

Appearance-wise, saturated fats and trans fats tend to be solid at room temperature (think of butter or traditional stick margarine), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be liquid (think of olive or corn oil).

BAD FATS

Saturated fat     Trans fat
Chicken with the skin Candy bars
Butter Packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips)
Ice cream Vegetable shortening
Lard Commercially baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough
Cheese Stick margarine
Palm and coconut oil Fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish)
Whole-fat dairy products (milk and cream)  
High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork)  

General guidelines for choosing healthy fats

With so many sources of dietary fat—some good and some bad—the choices can get confusing. But the bottom line is simple: don’t go no-fat, go good fat.

If you are concerned about your weight or heart health, and not avoiding fat in your diet, try replacing saturated fats and trans fats with good fats. This might mean replacing some of the meat you eat with beans and legumes, or using olive oil rather than butter.

Try to cut trans fats from your diet. Check food labels for trans fats. Avoiding commercially baked goods goes a long way. Also limit fast food.

Limit your intake of saturated fats by cutting back on red meat and full-fat dairy foods. Try replacing red meat with beans, nuts, poultry, and fish when possible, and switching from whole milk and other full-fat dairy foods to lower fat versions.

Eat omega-3 fats every day. Good sources include fish, walnuts, ground flax seeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil.

How much fat is too much?

How much fat is too much depends on your lifestyle, your weight, your age and most importantly the state of your health. The USDA recommends that the average person:

  • Keep total fat intake to 20-35% of calories
  • Limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your calories (200 calories for a 2000 calorie diet)
  • Limit trans fats to 1% of calories (2 grams per day for a 2000 calorie diet)
  • Get your personalized daily fat limits

See Resources and References section below for an easy-to-use tool from the American Heart Association that calculates your personalized daily calorie needs, recommended range for total fats, and limits for trans fats and saturated fats.

Saturated fats: Reduce this bad fat

When focusing on healthy fats, a good place to start is reducing your consumption of saturated fats. Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products such as red meat and whole milk dairy products. Poultry and fish also contain saturated fat, but less than red meat. Other sources of saturated fat include tropical vegetable oils such as coconut oil and palm oil.

Simple ways to cut saturated fat

  • Eat less red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) and more fish and chicken
  • Go for lean cuts of meat, and stick to white meat, which has less saturated fat.
  • Bake, broil, or grill instead of frying.
  • Remove the skin from chicken and trim as much fat off of meat as possible before cooking.
  • Avoid breaded meats and vegetables and deep-fried foods.
  • Choose low-fat milk and lower-fat cheeses like mozzarella when possible; enjoy full-fat dairy in moderation.
  • Use liquid vegetable oils such as olive oil or canola oil instead of lard, shortening, or butter.
  • Avoid cream and cheese sauces, or have them served on the side.
Sources of Saturated Fats Healthier Options
Cheese Olive oil
Red meat Low-fat or reduced-fat cheese
Cream White meat chicken or turkey
Eggs Low-fat milk or fat-free creamer
Ice cream Egg whites, an egg substitute (e.g. Eggbeaters), or tofu
Whole milk Frozen yogurt or reduced fat ice cream
Sour cream Skim or 1% milk
Butter Plain, non-fat yogurt

Eliminate trans fats from your diet

A trans fat is a normal fat molecule that has been twisted and deformed during a process called hydrogenation. During this process, liquid vegetable oil is heated and combined with hydrogen gas. Partially hydrogenation vegetable oils makes them more stable and less likely to spoil, which is very good for food manufacturers—and very bad for you.

No amount of trans fats is healthy. Trans fats contribute to major health problems, from heart disease to cancer.

Sources of trans fats:

Many people think of margarine when they picture trans fats, and it’s true that some margarines are loaded with them. However, the primary source of trans fats in the Western diet comes from commercially prepared baked goods and snack foods:

Baked goods – cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, pizza dough, and some breads like hamburger buns

Fried foods – doughnuts, French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, and hard taco shells

Snack foods – potato, corn, and tortilla chips; candy; packaged or microwave popcorn

Solid fats – stick margarine and semi-solid vegetable shortening

Pre-mixed products – cake mix, pancake mix, and chocolate drink mix

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