Good fats vs. Bad fats: A detailed guide to making better eating choices

Good fats vs. Bad fats: A detailed guide to making better eating choices

Fats are the first thing we choose to avoid when looking to meet our weight loss goals. This approach to a large extent is correct as a lot of kinds of fat are bad for your health. They are major contributors to increased risk of cardiac diseases, diabetes and obesity. However, not all fats can be categorized as bad. Some of them are actually essential for your body and promote good health. It is important to know the difference these good and bad fats to make the correct choice when deciding what to eat.

What are bad fats?

Foods contain a mixture of types of fatty acids. It is what is predominant in the food that makes it good or bad for your health.

Majorly, two types of fats, saturated fat and trans-fat, can be categorized as bad fats. These are known to have the worst effect on your health. Foods with these kinds of fats are normally solid at room temperature, like butter, margarine or beef and pork fat.

Saturated Fat: These fats can be added to your diet, however, only sparingly. They are mostly animal fat and are found in high-fat meats and dairy. Fatty cuts of beef or pork, high-fat dairy like butter or cheese, tropical oils like coconut or palm oil are some sources of saturated fats. Too much saturated fat in your diet can increase blood cholesterol. They have also been linked to a higher risk of heart diseases.

Trans-fat: Trans fatty acids are the worst kinds of fats for your body and should be completely avoided. They appear in foods with partially hydrogenates vegetable oils. Fried food, margarine, vegetable shortening, baked goods and processed snacks are some sources of trans-fats. They are responsible for increasing LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol. It also suppresses good cholesterol in the body. Some doctors also link trans-fats to increased inflammation in the body which causes heart disease, diabetes and strokes.

What are good fats?

Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are the best for your body. They are more ‘heart-healthy’ fats.

Monounsaturated fats: These kinds of fats are present in a number of different foods and oils. Research has shown that eating such foods can improve blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Nuts like almonds and peanuts, vegetable oils, peanut or almond butter and avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats.

Polyunsaturated fats: They are also known as essential fats as your body cannot produce these on its own and needs to obtain them from food. They, too, decrease the risk of heart disease. A very important kind of polyunsaturated fat is omega-3 fatty acids which are known to be exceptionally good for your heart. They help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. Salmon, sardines and trout are some fatty fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Your body also requires omega-6 fatty acids, another kind of polyunsaturated fat. Tofu, soy, walnuts, sesame and pumpkin seeds are some rich sources of this fatty acid and must be an essential part of your diet.

Even though good fats are good for your health, you should consume them in moderation are no matter, all kinds of fats are high in calories.

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