Question: What’s the difference between “good” fats, like omega-3 and what you find in avocados; and “bad” fats, like what’s in red meat?
The expert answers:
A fat is a fat is a fat when it comes to calories — they all provide 9 calories per gram. Fats differ in their saturation, essential fatty acid content, and their source (plant or animal).
Getting the right amount of the good kinds of fat is important. In general, you should eat less saturated fat (the fat that is solid at room temperature) because it raises the level of cholesterol in your blood. Examples of saturated fats are beef tallow, butter, cream, hydrogenated fat, cheese, and tropical oils. Avoid the hydrogenated or trans fatty acids altogether. Polyunsaturated fats contain the omega 6 (safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, and soybean oils) and omega 3 (fatty fish, nuts, flaxseed, and leafy green vegetables) essential fatty acids our bodies need.
The American fast food and prepackaged diet provides us too much of the omega 6 fats which are pro-inflammatory and may increase the risk of certain cancers. Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and protect against heart disease.
Monounsaturated fats also have a protective effect on the heart, and include oils such as canola, peanut, and olive. Nuts, olives, and avocados are also high in monounsaturated fats. To get the right balance, select foods high in the monounsaturated fats and omega 3s.