Healthy and unhealthy fats
You've probably heard different opinions on fats. Which are the good ones, and which ones are bad? Let's understand them better:
Let's start by discussing the three fats types: unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats.
Unsaturated fats are good fats because they help lower cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation in the body. These can be found in olives, avocados, fatty fish, seeds, and nuts.
Saturated fats, on the other hand, are often called bad fats because they can raise bad cholesterol levels that can clog arteries and put you at risk of heart disease. Foods like red meat, butter, cream cheese and lard are high in saturated fat.
Trans fat is an unsaturated fat that has been processed to become more solid. Trans fat increases bad cholesterol levels even more than saturated fats can, so it's best avoided entirely.
To ensure your diet is balanced with healthy fats, aim for 25-30% of your total daily calories from all sources of good fat.
Healthy fats contain polyunsaturated fats like Omega-3s and monounsaturated fats, which help avoid heart diseases and stroke. Here are the main sources of healthy fats:
Monounsaturated Fats: These fats are found in olives, avocados, peanut butter, nuts, and seeds. These offer heart-healthy benefits by lowering bad cholesterol levels.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Found mainly in fish oil, these beneficial fatty acids may reduce inflammation, improve heart health and support brain health.
Unsaturated Fats: These are found in plant-based foods such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, olives and avocados and provide essential fatty acids that your body does not make alone.
It's important to remember that while all fats have some health benefits, too much of a good thing can also be bad for you! It is also important to know that not all saturated fats are bad.
Some types of saturated fats provide health benefits when eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet. This includes medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), found in plant sources such as coconut oil, which can benefit your body's energy levels and metabolism.
Healthy sources of saturated fats include:
Trans fat is a type of seed oil artificially modified to be used in baking and frying products. E.g., margarine, fry oil, and processed snack foods like chips and candy. These artificial trans fats are known to increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other health issues, so it's best to avoid them!
Saturated fats come from animals (meat and dairy) and plant-based sources such as palm oil and cocoa butter. While these are considered 'unhealthy' because they can increase bad cholesterol levels when consumed in excess, they don't appear as dangerous as trans fats.
That said, you should still be mindful of how much-saturated fat you consume daily, especially if you're at risk for heart disease or diabetes. Ultimately, with the right diet and lifestyle, you'll enjoy the benefits of having a healthy amount of good fats in your diet - from improved heart health and better digestion to reduced risk of obesity.