Good Fat vs. Bad Fat – What You Need to Know
Fat – it’s not the enemy you think it is.
In fact, fat is essential for life. It helps you maintain energy levels, absorb vitamins and minerals, build cell membranes, and continue functioning at optimal levels.
Here is what you need to know about good fats, bad fats, and how to include them in a healthy diet.
Trans fat: a.k.a. the worst
Trans fat is the worst type of dietary fat. And unfortunately, if you enjoy highly-processed foods, there is a good chance you are consuming a lot of trans fat.
Trans fat is commonly used in the food industry because of it’s technical properties. It is a thick fat, making it easier to manipulate within the manufacturing process. It conserves better than other fats, helping manufacturers create food that doesn’t spoil. On top of that, it is commonly used for deep frying. Because of this, you’ll find trans fat in many deep-fried and processed foods, including crackers, cookies, french fries, and canned soups.
Food containing trans fat may taste delicious at the time, but in the long run, it is detrimental to your health. Consuming trans fat increases the amount of harmful LDL cholesterol in your blood, and decreases the amount of healthy HDL cholesterol. Trans fat is linked to many common health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. It has no health benefits and should be avoided as much as possible.
Saturated fat: the middle ground
Saturated fat is found in many natural foods and animal products and is solid at room temperature. While not as bad as trans fat, it should be consumed in moderation. Saturated fat has been shown to increase cholesterol levels and contribute to obesity. No more than 30% of your total fat consumption should come from saturated fats.
Some examples of food containing saturated fat:
- Dairy products
- Red meat
One exception is coconut oil. Although it contains saturated fat, it has been shown to boost the HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) which other saturated fats do not do.
The good fats – they do exist!
There are two beneficial types of fat: polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. These fats are cannot be synthesized in your body. Instead, they must be consumed from natural sources.
Polyunsaturated fat most consists of Omega-3 or Omega-6 fatty acids:
- Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish (salmon, sardines), walnuts and canola oil.
- Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in soybean, and sunflower oils.
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and Omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation. Both are essential to healthy body functions, and should be consumed in a balanced manner. Eating either in excess creates an imbalance and can result in health problems such as heart disease.
Monounsaturated fat was discovered in the mediterranean. Although the Greek diet is high in fat, researchers found a very low incidence of heart disease. The reason? Olive oil. Other sources for monounsaturated fat include avocados and peanut oil.
Consumption of these good fats should be one-third of your daily fat intake. Include moderate amounts of each in your diet for maximum health benefits.
Don’t fear fat
When adding fat to your diet, quantity and quality are the most important factors to consider. In clinical studies, subjects who ate a moderate or low-fat diet did not lose weight any easier than participants who followed a moderate or high-fat diet. In turns out that the type of fat consumed is much more important than the amount.
Embracing fat as a necessary part of your diet. Focus on eating healthy fats, in moderation of course, and limiting the bad fats. Swap out butter or margarine with olive oil or peanut oil for cooking and baking. For cold use, try avocado oil, walnut oil, or flaxseed oil. Eat fish instead of steak. Skip canned foods at the grocery store and make your own soups.
For a quick overview, these are a few sources of healthy fats:
- Olive Oil
- Walnuts and most other nuts
- Canola oil
A few sources of fat to avoid:
- Deep fried foods
- Cookies, pastries, and chips
We’re not saying you can never have a donut, cookie, or your favorite treat again. However, if you want to be fit, it is best to limit your consumption of bad fats as much as possible and trade them for healthy alternatives.
If you have 8fit Pro, you can feel safe knowing that your meal plans are designed by nutritionists to provide a variety of fats, as well as decrease the consumption of unhealthy fats. That way, you will eat a healthy diet the majority of the time and if you must, you have the wiggle room for one cheat day a week.