With so many different health trends out there, telling you whether and in what quantity you should be eating fat, it can be hard to make sense of what your body needs. If all the talk has left you confused, we’ve got the lowdown to help you gain a better understanding of the differences between “good” and “bad” fats.
The “bad” fats
There are two kinds of “bad” fats found in our food: saturated fats and trans fats. Health Canada explains that saturated and trans fats can raise LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk for heart disease.
Saturated fats can be found in meat (i.e. beef, chicken, lamb, pork), oils (i.e. coconut oil), dairy products (i.e. butter, cream, cheese), lard and shortening. Health Canada recommends reducing saturated fats in the diet by choosing leaner meats, such as chicken or turkey breast, and lower-fat dairy products.
Trans fats are the ones that are particularly bad for you, as they not only increase levels of “bad” cholesterol, but they also decrease your levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol. Trans fats are most often found in commercially fried foods (i.e. french fries, chips, doughnuts), baked goods (i.e. cakes, cookies, pastries) and other snack foods commonly considered “junk food.” For optimal health, it is best to read nutritional labels and to seek out products that have no trans fats.
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The “good” fats
Although some fats are better avoided, others can actually be beneficial for your body. These “good fats” are called unsaturated fats, and Health Canada reports that replacing saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fats come in two forms: polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Both can be found in plant oils (i.e. sunflower oil, canola oil) and nuts and seeds (i.e. almonds, cashews, flaxseeds). Monounsaturated fats can also be found in avocados, while fatty fish (i.e. salmon, trout) and fish oils are great sources of polyunsaturated fats.
Health Canada recommends that Canadians include a small amount of unsaturated fat each day for optimal health benefits. This includes oil for cooking, salad dressings, margarine and the foods mentioned above. Unsaturated fats can help boost your energy, provide better vitamin absorption, and reduce cardiovascular risks. In moderation, they are an integral part of a healthy diet..
Now that you know which fats are good for you, how will you incorporate these foods into your diet today and in the future?