Fats: The good, the bad, and the ugly truth
Fat has been a complex subject for years. One day you’ll hear a high fat diet will help you lose weight and the next day you should avoid all fat in your diet. So what’s the deal?
Fat is an essential nutrient that our bodies require to live; it assists in vitamin absorption, hormone regulation, brain function, and more. What’s important to remember is that fats are essential for a healthy lifestyle. Healthy fats are essential for a healthy lifestyle. However, the quantity of the good fats you consume is just as important as the quality.
Healthy fats (Unsaturated Fats):
These fats contain nutrients that give your body energy and support cell growth and repair. Plus they’re also good for healthy skin and hair! Healthy fats also raise your HDL (also known as you’re good cholesterol) which removes the LDL “bad cholesterol” from your arteries. Literally takes them away from the artery and brings them back to your liver so it can be metabolized by the body and not clog your arteries. That being said, healthy fats in moderation can decrease your cholesterol levels and keep you at a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
This list includes olive oils, fatty fish, nuts and seeds, and avocados
Unhealthy fats (Saturated Fats):
Saturated fats are twice as likely to raise your cholesterol levels as unsaturated fats are at lowering them! So your body will thank you for limiting these sources of fats. A lot of prepared foods and foods we tend to eat out at restaurants contain a high amount of saturated fat. So cooking at home is a great way to decrease your saturated fat content, then you know exactly what’s going into your food and how it’s being cooked! These fats are difficult to avoid in the diet, but choosing foods such as lean meats and fat free dairy is the way to go.
Sources to limit:
The list includes Whole milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, red meat, sour cream and palm oils
REALLY unhealthy fats (Trans fats):
Trans fats are artificial and produced industrially from vegetable fats. The primary dietary source for trans fats in processed food is “partially hydrogenated oils." Look for them on the ingredient list on food packages. These sources of fats are not something we should put into our bodies. Do we? Yes of course. They’re in a lot of junk foods that we sometimes tend to treat ourselves with. However, these are fats that are chemically changed to increase shelf life, and they can do a lot of harm to your body. These fats lower your good cholesterol (HDL) and raise your bad cholesterol (LDL). Companies use these because they are pretty inexpensive and can hang on the shelf for a long time. In large amounts these really are toxic to our bodies.
Sources to avoid:
The list includes Fast foods, fried foods, cookies, crackers, baked goods, and margarine
The ugly truth
Now here’s what you should know. Fat is Fat. Whether you’re getting your fat from a brownie quarter of a brownie or a half of an avocado, there’s still 9 calories per 1 gram of fat for both. However, your avocado is giving you sources of dietary fiber, vitamin K, copper, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin E, and vitamin C. While your brownie is giving you those trans fats we just talked about. So even though the caloric fat content may be the same depending on the portions, choosing the healthier fat will give you the nutrients you need for a heathy lifestyle.
To keep it simple:
Include Healthy Fats
Limit Saturated Fats
Avoid Trans Fats (or limit to occasion)
If you would like to work with one our nutritionists contact us through our website or call 732-462-LEAN(5326)
Written by: Brianna Crosby, BS Nutrition and Dietetics