FAT- the big “F” word in the nutrition world that is sure to raise eyebrows! While we need fat in our bodies for proper function, not all fats are created equal. Some fats aid in keeping your heart’s pipes clean while others increase risk of disease.
“Good” fat vs. “bad” fat
There are two types of fat found naturally in food: saturated and unsaturated (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated). Trans fat or trans fatty acids are produced industrially through a process that combines hydrogen and vegetable oil, causing the liquid fat to convert to solid form at room temperature.
Saturated fats are typically considered “bad” and increase levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood which can lead to clogged arteries. Additionally, there is strong evidence suggesting that these fats increase risk of heart disease and stroke. Examples of foods containing saturated fats are red meat, cheese, butter and oils. The American Heart Association recommends a diet that obtains 5% to 6% of calories from saturated fat which translates to about 13 grams daily.
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are considered “good” and are necessary for good health and when consumed moderately they help lower the bad cholesterol in the blood that causes strokes and heart disease. What’s more is this type of fat provides nutrients to maintain and develop cells throughout your body. Foods such as fish, avocado, peanut butter, olive oil, canola oil and sesame oil are high in monounsaturated fats.
Fat is essential to life and wellness, although it usually isn’t presented this way. Limiting bad fat and consuming good fat in a moderate manner can help ensure a healthier longer life. If you’re thinking of making any changes or adjustments to your diet, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider.