Despite the current national obsession with fatty foods that contribute to obesity, many fats are good for our health and can help reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Although it has gotten a bad reputation in the press over the last, health-conscious decade, fat is actually an important part of a healthy diet. Every year, researchers confirm that many fats are good for people and can help reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Fats also play a big part in the metabolism of sugar and insulin and are essential for anyone interested in long term weight loss and overall weight maintenance. Fats are also a big part of what makes many foods taste good, however, not all fats are created equal and there are definitely some good fats out there some and bad fats too.
Fats have been in the news and on television so much, and referred to in so many different ways, that it can be difficult to identify exactly what they are. Some of the terms and names used to describe fats include:
• Fatty acids
• Essential fatty acids
• Saturated fat
• Unsaturated fat
• Polyunsaturated fat
• Mono-unsaturated fat
• Trans fatty acids
• Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
• Partially hydrogenated fat
The so-called “good” fats include monounsaturated fats, found in olive and canola oils, nuts, peanut butter, and avocados. Monounsaturated fats are considered beneficial because they can help lower amounts of "bad" LDL cholesterol that can clog artery walls.- Monounsaturated fats also help maintain the body’s levels of "good" HDL cholesterol that helps to remove cholesterol from artery walls and instead, guide it to the liver where it can be processed and shed.
Polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids are considered as “good” fats and include the fats found in fish, canola oil, flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts. Various Studies have also proven that people who consume plenty of omega-3 fats have fewer serious health problems like heart disease and diabetes. There is also a lot of research that points to the fact that omega-3 fats can help prevent or treat a variety of health problems including depression, arthritis, asthma, and colitis.
On the other hand, the saturated “bad” fats include those found in butter, red meats, and dairy products. Holding their own category are the manmade trans fats, which have been shown to be “very bad fats” and are unfortunately found in a wide variety of foods including many pre-packaged items, margarine, cookies, cakes, cake icings, doughnuts, and potato chips. Far worse than the “bad” saturated fats; the trans fats have proven to be harmful to human blood vessels, nervous systems, and digestive system.
Once you have been educated on the difference between “good” fats and “bad” fats it becomes much easier to predict exactly how the various forms of fat in your own diet will affect your body. It should also become much easier to be aware of the bad fats and make the lifestyle and diet changes necessary to ensure optimum health.