10 October 2008

Good Fat vs. Bad Fat -Which is Which?

fried chicken full of saturated fats and oh so fattening
When it comes to eating healthily, there's a lot of misinformation and confusion out there and sometimes, it's easy for people to get an idea into their head abut how 'bad for them' and 'full of fat' something is. Take avocados. They get such a bad press because everyone thinks they're fattening. We all need fats - some of it is essential to help regulate hormonal production, improve our immune function, lower total cholesterol, lubricate the joints, and provide us with the basics for healthy hair, nails and skin. So here is a simple guide to what to look out for so you know your fats. 

And remember, as a rule of thumb, the fats that go solid and white at room temperature are bad and the fats that stay runny are good.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats lower total cholesterol. They can be found in:
canola oil
olive oil

These fats also help with weight loss, particularly with reducing body fat. 

Polyunsaturated Fats
Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol levels. You can find these in:
fish oil
sunflower oils

They are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Some people get a little picky about Polyunsaturated Fats as they think that they can sometimes reduce the levels of good cholesterol but I don't think you will be consuming enough to reach that stage.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats raise your total blood cholesterol and can lead to heart disease. Saturated fats are mainly found in:
animal products such as meat
Interestingly, the palm tree is guilty of creating saturated fats too which is why you should limit the amount of coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil you have.

If you are on a diet and actually want to lose weight, never, ever have deep-fried food. It has absolutely no nutritional value and is the equivalent of eating rubbish. Loaded with saturated fat, it's very fattening and bad for your heart and arteries. Foods to avoid - fries, potato chips, breaded chicken dippers and onion rings.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are created in labs as a by-product of adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. This is done to extend the shelf life of the food. Another name for trans fats is “partially hydrogenated oils." The trans fatty acids are found in:
packaged foods
fried foods from some fast food restaurants
some brands of microwave popcorn

You don't ever want to consume the stuff if you can help it as it clogs the arteries and raise cholesterol levels dangerously.

photograph by joshbousel (flickr)

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