Good Fat vs. Bad Fat

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August 27, 2013 by thehealthyheartcenter

It is a very common misconception that fat is bad for you. In reality, 20-35% of your daily caloric intake should be consumed as fat so that your body has energy, can absorb vitamins, and be well insulated. However, there are bad fats that you should avoid, and good fats that are a great addition to your diet. So, how do you know which fats are good for you and which fats are bad for you? Below is a list of the different kinds of fats and some of their food sources:

GOOD FATS

  • Unsaturated– These fats are usually liquid at room temperature and are very good for your heart. Unsaturated fats carry bad fats and cholesterol away from your heart, allowing it to pump blood easily to the rest of your body. This significantly decreases your risk for heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. Examples of unsaturated fats include monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, omega-3 fatty acids, and omega-6 fatty acids. Even though there are many different types of unsaturated fats, they are all good for you! Some food sources of unsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil, avocado, chicken, peanuts, fatty fish, and more!

BAD FATS TO AVOID

  • Saturated– These fats are usually solid at room temperature and are notorious for clogging up your arteries. This puts stress on the heart, making it hard for it to pump blood to the rest of your body. Excess amounts of saturated fat in the diet is  usually the culprit behind most heart problems in the United States. Saturated fat is found in most animal products like whole milk, cheese, and meat. When choosing your animal products, try and opt for skim milk, low-fat cheeses, and lean meats like poultry. 
  • Trans– These fats are “good” fats turned into “bad” fats through a process called hydrogenation. Trans fats are usually added to processed and pre-packaged foods in order to better preserve them. Trans fats have such adverse effects on the body, that it is not recommended to consume any. Trans fats are usually found in our favorite junk foods, such as chips and cheese curls.
  • Cholesterol– Our body naturally produces cholesterol, so it is not a necessary addition to the American Diet. Cholesterol is also a top contributor to cardiovascular disease and is found in all animal products. 

Sources: 

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/three-functions-fat-body-3402.html

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/top-food-sources-of-saturated-fat-in-the-us/

 

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Authors

Dr. Wali Gauvin

Kendra Fink RD CPT

Jessica Griffin: Intern

Julianna Yi: Intern

Marielle Mangano: Intern

Jackie Page: Intern

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