Good Fats And Bad Fats


All the health magazines keep telling us to consume more 'good fats' and avoid the 'bad fats', but I have no idea which fats are good and which are bad. Could you clarify?

Sure. The reason why 'bad fats' are named so is because they increase the risk of certain diseases such as obesity, heart disease and high blood cholesterol. 'Good fats', on the other hand, lower the risk. Which is why we are greatly encouraged to substitute good fats for bad fats in our diet.

The 'Good Fats'
Monounsaturated fats are found in foods such as avocados and most nuts as well as in oils like olive, peanut and canola oils. These are known as heart-healthy foods as they help to reduce 'bad' LDL cholesterol levels while maintaining or raising 'good' HDL cholesterol levels.

Polyunsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature. They can be of vegetable or plant origin (containing omega-6 fatty acids), such as nuts and vegetable oils including corn, soybean and safflower oils, or from oily fish such as salmon and sardines (containing omega-3 fatty acids). They are known to reduce both 'bad' LDL and 'good' HDL cholesterol levels. Studies also suggest that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is linked to a decreased risk of coronary heart disease.

The 'Bad Fats'
Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature, and are mostly found in foods derived from animal sources. Examples are whole milk butter, cheese and red meat. The few vegetable sources of saturated fats include coconut milk and palm oils. Because saturated fats are known to increase both 'bad' LDL and 'good' HDL cholesterol levels, they can contribute to high blood cholesterol.

Trans fat is made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation. Trans fat increases product shelf life and stabilizes flavor, and is commonly present in margarine and commercial baked good like cookies, crackers and cakes. They are known to elevate 'bad' LDL levels while lowering 'good' HDL levels, thus increasing the risk of artery-clogging and coronary heart disease. Look out for the words "partially hydrogenated" or "vegetable shortening" on the nutrition label to see if the product contains trans fat.


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