What are ‘Good’ Fats & What are ‘Bad’ Fats?

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Credit:Sites at Penn State

I thought all fats were bad?

We actually do need fat in our daily diet.  Fat provides a concentrated source of energy, it’s essential for growth and health, it helps maintain the structure of cell membranes and protects our vital organs.  However, when consumed in excess, like any other food, fats will contribute to weight gain.

Good Fats versus Bad Fats

All fats are not created equal. While some fats promote good health others increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and have been linked to some cancers.  The key is to remove as many ‘bad’ fats from your diet and replace them with ‘good’ fats.

What are the ‘Bad’ fats and where are they found?

The baddies are saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fats raise the total blood cholesterol, especially LDL (the bad cholesterol). Trans fats are liquid oils that have been hydrogenated so that they have a longer shelf life.

  • Saturated Fats:  Mostly found in animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs and some seafood. Some plant oils such as coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil.
  • Trans Fats: Found in many commercially packaged foods; commercially fried foods. Vegetable shortening and hard stick margarine.

What are the ‘Good’ fats and where are they found?

The good fats are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, they lower the total cholesterol levels and increase the good cholesterol (HDL).

  • Monounsaturated Fats: Found in nuts including peanuts, walnuts, almonds and pistachios. Avocados. Olives and olive oil and canola oil. All vegetable oils. Lean meat, chicken, eggs and fish.
  • Polyunsaturated Fats: Occurs in the ‘germ’ of all grains like wheatgerm.  Is extracted from seeds like sunflower, safflower, soybean, corn, sesame, flaxseed and grape seed. Salmon.
The Key?
  • Avoid commercially prepared foods . Always read the labels and look for trans-fat free alternatives.
  • Prepare and cook your own meals as much as possible, that way you know what’s going in them.
  • Eat lean meats. Trim any visible fat from meat and remove the skin from chicken.
  • Avoid using cooking oils that are high in saturated/trans fats. Instead use oils such as canola, olive, sunflower and safflower oils.
  • Use low fat dairy products such as skim or trim milk and low-fat yoghurt. Look for low fat cheeses options like feta, ricotta and cottage cheese.
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