Fats always seem to be getting a bad rap. So many people go on low-fat or no-fat diets when that’s the opposite of what we should be doing. We need good fats and lots of them! In a previous post I discussed why we need good fats in our diets and the best ways to get them. Now I want to talk about bad fats and why we need to avoid them.
There are two types of bad fats- saturated and trans fat. They are harmful to our health and should be avoided completely or eaten sparingly.
Saturated fats are primarily found in animal-based products-
- fatty cuts of beef, pork and lamb
- dark chicken and poultry skin
- dairy such as whole milk, butter, cheese, sour cream and ice cream
- tropical oils such as palm, cocoa butter, coconut oil
Excess saturated fat has been shown to increase blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, which can increase your risk for heart disease and possibly type 2 diabetes, especially when combined with a diet high in refined carbohydrates.
Trans fats short for “trans fatty acids,” are found in foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These are the worst fats for you. You might find trans fat in-
- fried foods (French fries, doughnuts, deep-fried fast foods)
- vegetable shortening
- baked goods (cookies, cakes, pastries)
- processed snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips)
Like saturated fat, trans fat can raise LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol. Trans fat can also suppress high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, or “good” cholesterol. Trans fats, therefore, can raise your heart disease risk threefold higher than saturated fat intake.
Now I’m not saying we all shouldn’t enjoy the occasional juicy steak or fried chicken, just make sure it’s not the bulk of your daily diet and choose leaner cuts of meat when you do eat them. Try replacing unhealthy fats with healthy fats when possible to improve the quality of your life.
Fat is as essential to your diet as protein and carbohydrates are in fueling your body with energy. Certain bodily functions also rely on the presence of fat. For example, some vitamins require fat in order to dissolve into your bloodstream and provide nutrients. However, the excess calories from eating too much fat of any type can lead to weight gain.
Just be mindful of the fuel you give your body, have a good balance and your body will be happy!