The word “fat” has many nicknames, making it hard to keep them straight and know what each type of fat does to your body. To put it simply, fats are named by the way they are built. As part of our dietary needs, our bodies need certain fats, otherwise known as the “good fats” and we need to avoid the “bad fats”. This sounds simple but what are good fats and what are bad fats, and how do we get them?
The “Bad Fats” are considered to be trans and saturated fats. Bad fats are shown to raise the bad cholesterol, otherwise known as LDL. They may also lower good cholesterol, known as HDL. Bad fats can also increase the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Trans and saturated fats can be found in many foods – including doughnuts, French fries, and baked goods including: pastries, pie crusts, biscuits, pizza dough, and stick margarines and shortenings. Your nutrition label can hide trans fats however. The FDA is working to ban trans fats, yet the current regulations allow food manufacturers with less than 0.5 grams per serving to claim 0.00 grams. You can spot these “hidden” trans fats by reading ingredient lists and looking for “partially hydrogenated oils”.
“Good Fats” are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, along with the omegas. These fats are shown to improve cholesterol levels, may help reduce risk factors of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Good fats can also promote a healthy nervous system and improve vitamin absorption. Foods that contain good fats are: some vegetable oils such as canola oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, as well as fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and trout. Other sources include some nuts and seeds such as walnuts and sunflower seeds. The American Heart Association recommends 15-25 percent of daily calories should be devoted to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
What should you buy at the store to get started? Click here for the shopping list below along with tips and tricks to reading labels.
Fish: Salmon, Trout, Tuna
Oils: Canola, Corn, Coconut, Olive, Peanut, Soybean, Sunflower
Canned Food: Almond Butter, Black Olives, Green Olives, Peanut Butter, Salmon, and Tuna
Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, Cashews, Flaxseed, Hazelnuts, Seeds, and other types of nuts.