Some fats help us absorb nutrients, aid in nerve transmission, reduce body fat, improve cholesterol, and help build brain cell membranes.
All our lives, we’ve been taught that eating fat is dangerous to our health and that it contributes to weight gain. We’ve developed the belief that cutting fat from our diets makes us healthier and causes us to lose weight.
The truth is that we all need fats in our diets.
Although fats are necessary for the body, certain fats can have an adverse effect.
Consuming too many of the wrong fats can increase the risk of heart disease, contribute to weight gain, and can even play a role in the development of some cancers.
The key to eating fats is to substitute bad fats with good fats in your diet.
How do you know which fats to eat? There are lots of different fats found in different foods. But basically, the good fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, and the bad fats include saturated fats and trans fats.
The Good Fats
Monounsaturated fats lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (Low-Density Lipoprotein) known as the bad cholesterol. At the same time, Monosaturated fats increase HDL cholesterol, (High-Density Lipoprotein) the good cholesterol. Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, avocados, olives, canola oil, and olive oil are all high in monounsaturated fats. These fats also help in weight loss and help reduce body fat.
Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Seafood like salmon and fish, as well as corn, soy, safflower, and sunflower oils are high in polyunsaturated fats. Ideally, look for polyunsaturated fats that contain omega-3 essential fatty acids, like flaxseed oil, hemp oil, pumpkin seeds, walnuts or oily fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in the Melaleuca supplement Phytomega® which is designed to promote heart health.
Try to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which help control blood clotting and help build cell membranes in the brain. They’re also known to promote heart health. Research has also shown that this fatty acid can have a positive impact on blood pressure, cholesterol, depression, and cardiovascular disease.
The Bad Fats
Hot vegetable oil combined with hydrogen creates very stable trans fats. When fats are more stable, they act as a preservative and increase the shelf life of the products they contain. While that helps preserve processed foods and fried foods, it is not healthy for your body. These trans fats are common in commercially packaged foods including crackers, doughnuts, cookies, potato chips, corn chips, tortilla chips, microwave popcorn, and even some bread. Most fried foods are loaded with trans fats.
No amount of trans fats is healthy. Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol levels and lower HDL. This can contribute to major health problems, ranging from heart disease to cancer. If your diet doesn’t get adequate good fats, your body will use trans fats to replace it, which damages your body and leads to disease.
Food labels are required to list trans fats and saturated fats on the product label, so look for them under the “Fats” category in the “Nutrition Facts.”
Saturated fats raise total blood cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs and also in coconut oil, palm oil, vegetable shortening, and palm kernel oil.
Like trans fats, saturated fats are never healthy. And also like trans fats, saturated fats can build diseases and heart issues that could eventually prove fatal. Though everyday foods like meat and dairy products have saturated fat, you can still use those foods in ways that reduce the saturated fats. For example, buying 93% lean beef and draining out all the fat you can while cooking can help. Eat egg whites, but not egg yolks.
If you are trying to lose weight, or are concerned about your heart, don’t stop eating fats. Try replacing the bad fats with good fats. Try cooking with oils that are low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like canola oil, olive oil, and flaxseed oil. Drink and cook with skim milk instead of whole milk. Try trimming fats and skins from meat products. And remember to take the time to always read labels and avoid bad fats.