Do You Know the Differences Good and Bad Fats?
From your favourite Trendy Fit columnist: Steph
Do you ever stop to read fat content on a food label? Do you know what exactly it is you’re looking for? What about great food choices that don’t even have a nutrition label like some meats, fruits and vegetables? Like many other health myths you may have heard over the years, you’ve probably been told the best way to eat is a “low-fat” diet. The problem sometimes with observing a “low-fat” diet is you may tend to ignore the good fats that are needed in your body. Instead, lets talk about how there are the good fats vs. bad fats that you need in your diet!
Although it is harmful to eat too many fats, it is important to be conscious about consuming good fats, as it is essential to your diet. Good fats are separated into two types: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Healthy fats play a huge role in helping you manage your moods, stay on top of your mental game, fight fatigue, and even control your weight. The good fats you eat give your body energy that it needs to work properly. For example, when you are physically active, your body uses calories from carbohydrates you have consumed, but after about 20 minutes, exercise then depends on calories from fat to keep you going that extra mile! Good fats are also responsible for a healthy brain, skin and hair. It will also allow you to absorb what are known as your “fat-soluble” vitamins: A, D, and E.
Bad fats are the evils in your diet, otherwise known as trans and saturated fats. This is what you should be looking for when you read your nutrition labels.) Saturated fats raise your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol level. High LDL cholesterol puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke, and other major health problems. Trans fatty acids are unhealthy fats that form when things like vegetable oil hardens in a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenated fats, or “trans fats,” are often used to keep some foods fresh for a long time. They can raise LDL cholesterol levels in your blood. They can also lower your HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.
So what to eat and what to avoid? A cheat sheet for the battle between good fats vs. bad fats is listed below to use as a guide on what to look out for. Either when you are shopping at the grocery store or reading your nutrition labels, you will have a little insight in what to watch out for.
BAD Fats to watch out for:
- animal products, i.e. butter, milk, cream, and fatty red meats
- watch out for your trendy “coconut” based oils- some are high in saturated fats that raise your bad cholesterol- do your research before making a purchase!
- chicken with the skin on
- packaged snack foods (chips, popcorn, crackers)
- fried foods
- commercially packaged foods
GOOD fats to keep on eating:
- olive oil
- sunflower oil
- canola oil
- peanut butter (natural)
- nuts (almonds, peanuts, cashews, pecans)
- flaxseed oil
- fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel)
The topic of fats is a very extensive one; we just focused on a very small part of the good vs. bad! Always try to read up on complex things like fats, to help you understand what you are putting into your body.
The key to using good fats vs. bad fats in your diet is more about finding ways to replace the bad with the good. This means focusing more on swapping out things like butter and using olive oil instead; or even trading in your cream in your coffee for fat-free milk. Small changes make large impacts in the future. If you can learn to make the small changes first with no problems, then the big ones don’t seem as scary!
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