Bad fats include trans and saturated fats. These fats may negatively impact your health.
- raise “bad” cholesterol (LDL)
- may lower “good” cholesterol (HDL)
- can increase the risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke.
Most trans fats are artificially produced as a result of partial hydrogenation, which is a process used to convert liquid oil to a solid.
Generally, natural trans fats are not a big concern, especially if you choose low-fat dairy products and lean meats. The real worry in the American diet is the artificial trans fats. They’re used extensively in frying, baked goods, cookies, icings, crackers, packaged snack foods, microwave popcorn, and some margarines.
Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature and naturally occur in foods such as meat.
Good fats, such as mono- (omega-9) and polyunsaturated (omega-3) fats are liquid at room temperature and naturally occur in many foods. These fats have positive health benefits.
- are shown to improve cholesterol levels
- may help reduce risk factors of heart disease and stroke
- may help reduce risk of diabetes
- could promote healthy nerve activity
- are shown to improve vitamin absorption
- are required to maintain healthy immune system
- promote cell development.
Sources of good fats include avocado; fish (especially fatty fish like salmon, trout, catfish, and mackerel); almonds; walnuts; peanuts and peanut butter; cashews; canola oil; sunflower oil; olives and olive oil; coconuts and coconut oil; seeds; and low-fat dairy.
As a rule minimize saturated fats, eliminate trans fats, and increase consumption of unsaturated fats.
Here are more tips to help you reduce the total amount of fat in your diet and make sure the fats you consume are the healthy ones (from WebMD):
- Choose a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
- Try a vegetarian meal, with plenty of beans, once a week
- Select dairy products that are skim or low-fat
- Experiment with light and reduced-fat salad dressings
- Replace fattier sauces with vinegars, mustards, and lemon juice
- When using fats, do so sparingly. Try to use unsaturated liquid oils, such as canola or olive, instead of butter or partially hydrogenated margarine
- Limit your consumption of high-fat foods, such as processed foods, fried foods, sweets, and desserts
- When cooking, substitute the lower-fat alternative (for example, low-fat sour cream or low-fat cream cheese) whenever possible
Know your fats.
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