When it comes to planning a healthy diet, fat is a complex subject. It's useful to understand some basic information.
There are 4 types of fat: Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated, Saturated and Trans fat.
Monounsaturated These fats are found in food like; olive oil, peanut oil, cashews, canola oil, hazelnuts, peanuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pine nuts and chicken fat.
- Monounsaturated fats are considered good fats and are said to help reduce cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure and to help control diabetes.
Polyunsaturated Polyunsaturated fats are also considered good fats and are said to reduce triglycerides, inflammations and tumor growth. They also help to improve immune function and help protect against sudden death from heart disease.
Polyunsaturated fats can be broken down into two categories: Omega 3 and Omega 6
- Omega 3 is found in foods like Canola oil, walnuts, flaxseeds, hempseeds, salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna, sardines, and herring.
- Omega 6 is found in foods like safflower oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, nuts, beans and soft margarine.
Saturated Saturated fats are bad fats, they raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact they are twice as potent at raising your bad cholesterol levels as polyunsaturated fats are at lowering them. It is difficult to eliminate these fats from your diet but one way to reduce them is to choose fat free milk and other dairy products. Saturated fats can be found in foods such as meats, whole milk, cheese, palm and coconut oil.
Trans Trans fats are the ugly fats, they raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good cholesterol (HDL). They increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Trans fats can be found in foods like crackers, cookies, shortening, stick margarine, hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils that have been subjected to heat-damage during cooking.
In summary, some fats are essential for a healthy diet. However, the quantity of even the good fats you consume is important.
Author: Jennifer Tran