Good vs Bad fats: What is saturated and unsaturated fat, Why are saturated fats bad?

How to choose healthy fats? Good fats vs Bad fats: What is saturated and unsaturated fat, Why are saturated fats bad?

Good Fats, Bad Fats, and the Power of Omega-3s

What is the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats?

According to health experts, eating food rich in fat can make a person obese, add inches to waistline, increase cholesterol level, and the worst result in various medical conditions. However, not all fat is bad for your health. There are two types of fats available; bad fats and good fats. Bad fats can destroy your diet and raise your risk of certain illnesses. Some examples of bad fats include saturated fat and trans fat. Good fats, on the other hand, protect your heart and brain. It is also called heart-healthy fats. Some examples of good fats are monounsaturated fat available in fruits and Polyunsaturated Fat that come from fish and other types of seafood.

Healthy fats like omega 3 are essential to emotional and physical wellbeing. By understanding the difference between the two and knowing how to include healthy fats in your daily diet can help you boost your energy, enhance your mood and wellbeing and lose weight as well.

What are dietary fats?

Just like carbohydrates and protein, fat is also a kind of nutrient that your body needs for daily energy. It also helps the body to easily and effectively absorb vitamins, and play an important role in keeping the wellbeing of your brain and heart on top. Fat is not always the culprit of various kinds of diseases, like what many people believe. It is the bad fats like the saturated and artificial fats. Consuming too many bad fats can lead to clogged arteries, weight gain and various illnesses. On the contrary, good fats help manage your moods, keep on top of the mental game, fight stress and fatigue and control your weight as well.

Dietary Fat and Cholesterol

Dietary fat is important in keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level. Cholesterol is a substance that looks like a wax our body needs to work properly. Cholesterol is not bad, however high amount of cholesterol in your body can lead to diverse medical issues. There are two main types of cholesterol:

  • High-density lipoproteins or HDL, or popularly known as good cholesterol
  • Low-density lipoproteins or LDL, or popularly known as bad cholesterol
  • The key to a healthy body is to keep bad cholesterol level low and good cholesterol level high. High level of good cholesterol helps you safe from heart illnesses and stroke.
  • Conversely, high LDL cholesterol level can lead to stroke and clog arteries. Low level of HDL can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats

Because fat is an essential part of a healthy diet, instead of implementing a low-fat diet, it is necessary to focus on more beneficial “good” fats. Thus, you have to limit the intake of “bad” fats.

Healthy or “Good” Fats

Polyunsaturated fats and Monounsaturated fats are two types of healthy fats. They keep your heart healthy, your cholesterol in a proper level and your health in general. Aside from these, good fats are also beneficial in:

  • Lowering the risk of stroke and heart disease
  • Lowering bad cholesterol level, while increasing good cholesterol
  • Preventing abnormal heart rhythms
  • Lowering triglycerides, related to heart disease and combat inflammation
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Preventing atherosclerosis (narrowing and hardening of the arteries)

Good Sources of Monounsaturated Fats

  • Avocados
  • Olive, peanut, canola and sesame oils
  • Olives
  • Nuts like peanuts, almonds, pecans, cashew and hazelnuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Good Sources of Polyunsaturated Fat
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower, sesame as well as pumpkin seeds
  • Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, trout and fish oil
  • Soymilk
  • Tofu
  • Soybean and safflower oil

Unhealthy or “Bad” Fats

Like good fats, there are also many types of unhealthy or bad fats such as:

Trans fat: Dairy products and meat contains small amount of trans fat. According to experts, consuming it is not risky to your health. The most dangerous one is the artificial trans fat. This type of trans fat not just boost bad cholesterol level, but also lower good cholesterol level. Artificial trans fat can trigger inflammation that is associated with stroke, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. It also contributes to insulin resistant that boosts the possibility of having type II diabetes.

  • The US Food and Drug Administration wants to ban the use of this trans fat in commercially prepared food.
  • No amount of artificial trans fat is considered safe, therefore make sure to get rid of it from your daily diet.

Saturated Fat: This type of fat is not as risky as trans fat. However, it can boost bad cholesterol level and high level of saturated fat in your body.  It can also lead to various health issues, so it is advisable to consume it in moderation. While there is no need to eliminate saturated fat from your daily diet, health experts suggest limiting this fat to only 10 percent of the daily calories.

Primary Sources of Trans Fat

  • Commercially baked cookies, pastries, muffins, cakes, doughnuts, pizza dough and cakes
  • Packaged snack foods like chips, microwave popcorn, and crackers
  • Vegetable shortening and stick margarine
  • Fried foods such as fried chicken, French fries, breaded fish and chicken nuggets
  • Anything that has hydrogenated vegetable oil, even when it claims to be free of trans fat.

Primary Sources of Saturated Fats

  • Chicken skin
  • Red meat like pork, lamb, and beef
  • Whole fat dairy products like cream, cheese, and milk
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Ice cream
  • Tropical oils including palm oil and coconut oil

Saturated Fat: No Longer Considered Unhealthy?

For decades, nutritionists, doctors as well as health authorities have a perception that a diet rich in saturated fats boost blood cholesterol and raises the risk of stroke and heart disease. But, recent researchers have made headlines through casting disbelief on those claims, they conclude that those who consume lots of saturated fat don’t experience more cardio-disease compared to people who eat less.

So, does that mean it is fine to consume too much-saturated fat?

What these studies want to emphasize is that if cut down the amount of saturated fat in your daily diet, it is essential to substitute them with the right foods. Like for instance, substituting animals fats with vegetable oils such as instead of butter oil use olive oil. Olive oil reduces the risk of developing the disease by lowering bad cholesterol. But, substituting animals fats with refined carbohydrates like replacing bacon with a pastry or bagel, will not have the same benefits. That is simply because consuming refined carbohydrates can also have a harmful effect on the amount of cholesterol, your risk for cardiovascular disease as well as your weight.

Limiting the consumption of saturated fats can still help enhance your general wellbeing, provided that the fact that you replace it with HDL than refined carbohydrates. In short, don’t go any fat, go good fat.

The Power of Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are a kind of polyunsaturated fat that is beneficial to your well-being. There are many types of Omega 3 fatty acids: DHA and EPA are found in algae and fish and lots of health benefits. ALA is a potent type of Omega 3 -fatty acids that are common in plants. Your body converts ALA to DHA and EPA at low rates.

Study has revealed that a daily diet rich in Omega 3-Fatty Acids help in:

  • Preventing and reducing signs of depression, bipolar disorder and depression
  • Protecting against dementia and memory loss
  • Reducing the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease
  • Easing joint pain, arthritis, as well as inflammatory skin conditions
  • Supporting a healthy pregnancy
  • Helping fight fatigue, balance mood and sharpen memory

Best Sources of Omega 3-Fatty Acids

Fish is a good source of EPA and DHA

  • Herring
  • Anchovies
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Trout
  • Tuna
  • Mussels
  • Oysters
  • Halibut

Vegetarian Sources of Omega 3-Fatty Acids ( Rich in ALA)

  • Eggs (contains small amount of DHA)
  • Algae like seaweed (high in DHA and EPA)
  • Chia seed
  • Flaxseed and flaxseed oil
  • Soybean and canola oil
  • Mayonnaise
  • Walnuts
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Edamame
  • Beans (kidney, refried, etc.)
  • Kale
  • Spinach

How Much Omega-3s Do You Need?

The AHA or American Heart Association suggests that people suffering from heart illness must consume 1 gram of EPA and DHA a day. For a healthy individual, you must consume at least two 3.5 oz servings of fish on a weekly basis.

  • Fatty fish like mackerel, herring, salmon, lake trout, albacore tuna as well as sardines contains a high level of omega 3s.
  • If you have allergies to fish but want to make sure you consume the right amount of omega 3s, experts recommend taking omega-3 pills, widely available online.
  • Include an array of ALA-rich oils, seeds, nuts as well as vegetables in your daily diet.

What to Do About Mercury in Fish

In spite of the health benefits, almost all seafood has traces of pollutants, which include mercury. The number of pollutants is high in larger fish, so keep away from eating shark, king mackerel, tilefish, and swordfish.

Mature or grown up individuals can safely consume two 6oz or 12oz of cooked seafood per week. For pregnant women, nursing moms and kids under twelve years old, choose fish that contains a low amount of mercury. It includes salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna, catfish, and Pollock. Keep yourself secured through varying the kinds of fish you eat daily.

Omega-3 supplements

Omega 3-fatty acids are best obtained through foods. However, there are lots of fish oil supplements available out there that once taken; you can reap the same benefits. Even if the Food and Drug Administration does not directly control the contents of these supplements, many studies have revealed that these products contain real omega three fatty acids. Fish oil doesn’t have mercury and low amounts of other contaminants.

  • One capsule per day gives your body about 200 to 400mg of EPA+DHA, and this is enough to keep your body healthy.
  • If you want to lower your cholesterol considerably, your doctor might recommend a prescription fish oil that has been concentrated and has 900mg of EPA+DHA for every capsule.
  • For vegans and vegetarians, look for supplements that have EPA and DHA taken out from algae.

Tips for Taking Supplements

Fish oil pills for some can be hard to take and might leave a fishy savor when burping. Keeping the supplements in the fridge before taking them can help in deodorizing the capsules.

Choosing Healthy Oils

Vegetable oils lower triglycerides and LDL level, and boost HDL cholesterol level. Vegetable oils like soybean, corn, sunflower have omega six fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and reduce insulin resistance.

  • Less processed oils like cold pressed extra virgin oil has phytochemicals that are beneficial for fighting certain types of cancer.
  • Most of the time, use naturally occurring un-hydrogenated vegetable oils like canola, olive oil, sunflower, safflower oil.
  • If you love using olive oil, make sure that it is extra virgin oil, which is more beneficial to your heart.

What about tropical oil, like palm and coconut oil?

The food business wants to tout the advantages of tropical oils, while dietary plan shuns these types of oil. What is the right one?

Tropical oils have a complex effect on the level of blood cholesterol, like for instance boosting bad cholesterol level, but at the same time boosting good cholesterol level. Unfortunately, the effects of these oils for heart disease ate still unknown.

  • For now, it is advisable to stick to vegetable since there is firm evidence that these are good for the heart.
  • If you don’t want to eat something on occasion that has palm or coconut oil, enjoy it as a treat- it is better than eating foods containing trans fat.

Tips for Adding Healthy Fats to Your Diet

Rather than counting fat grams, try a diet rich in an array of vegetables, nuts, beans, and fruits, with 2 or more servings of fish, moderate amounts of dairy and a small amount of red meat. Eat processed meats and fried foods occasionally.

Replace fried chicken with fresh seafood, substituting red meat with other sources of protein like chicken, beans, and fish, or use olive oil instead of butter. A Mediterranean diet can help you ensure you are getting good amounts of healthy fats and limiting the bad cholesterol.

  • Try to Avoid Trans Fats from Your Daily Diet: Read the food labels to know if it contains trans fat. Limiting fast food and commercially baked food help your body safe and sound from the harmful effects of trans fat.
  • Limit the Consumption of Saturated Fats by substituting some of the red mead with nuts, beans, fish, and poultry. However, don’t make the mistake of substituting saturated fat with sugary foods and refined carbohydrates.
  • Consume omega-3 fats daily: Include an array of fish sources and plant sources like walnuts, flaxseed oil, ground flax seeds, canola oil, as well as soybean oil.
  • Use Olive Oil When Cooking: When cooking instead of lard, stick margarine and butter, use olive oil. You can try canola oil when baking.
  • Consume More Avocados: There are many ways to enjoy avocado. You can make guacamole or use in salads or sandwiches. Avocado is right in good fats and makes you feel full as well.
  • Eat Nuts: You can add nuts to your dishes. Replace breadcrumbs with nuts on fish or chicken.
  • Include Olives in Your Snack: Olive is abundant in good fats. You can eat them plain.
  • Make Your Salad Dressing: Usually salad dressings available out there is rich, unhealthy fat. Make your dressing using sesame oil, flaxseed oils or olive oils.

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