The Difference Between Good and Bad Fats

Friday, June 28, 2013

                                      Grant Cochrane 

People are constantly being told that “Fats are bad”, and many people will spend lots of time and money to completely rid their diet of fat. The truth is, that we need fats. Fat is actually necessary for you to lose weight. It all depends on the source of food you are getting it from! 

The fats to avoid are trans fats and saturated fats. These fats are often found to be culprits in packaged foods such as french fries, margarine, cake mixes, and Ramen noodles. These fats will raise LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower your HDL (good cholesterol). The reason these fats are so unhealthy is because most of them have undergone hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is a chemical process that food manufacturers use to keep the fat in packaged food from going bad. These trans fats are hard to catch on food labels because there is a law that allows the food manufacturers to label them as “0g of Trans Fat” if the product contains less than .5g.  

Unsaturated fats such as omega-3, omega-6, oleic acid, and linoleic acids are the good fats! Incorporating these into your diet can actually help you lose weight! The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K all require fat so that they can be absorbed into the body. Without fat, you will not be getting any of these essential vitamins. Foods high in unsaturated fats such as avocado, can actually keep you feeling full longer because they can take a longer time to digest.

Low-fat diets can be very misleading because they are sending people the wrong message. The label, “low-fat” urges people to stray away from all fats completely, including the good fats that are needed to prevent illness such as heart disease. Also, when food producers take the fat out of a food they have to replace it with something else; which is usually a refined carbohydrate from sugar. These refined carbs can cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels because they are digested very fast. Hunger is a result of these high levels dropping down again. The hunger leads to overeating and weight gain. 

Harvard School of Public Health provides us with 5 tips on how to choose foods with healthy fats.

1)      Use liquid plant oils for cooking and baking such as olive or canola oil

2)      Ditch the Trans Fat

3)      Switch from butter to soft tub margarine

4)      Eat at least one good source of Omega-3 fats each day such as salmon, tuna or walnuts

5)      Cut back on red meat, cheese, milk and ice cream because they can be high in saturated fats. Choose chicken, fish or nuts instead. 

Next time you consider buying a food product that is low-fat, think again! Aim for the unsaturated fats and stay away from saturated fats, trans fats, and hydrogenated oils. Remember that fat is not always bad!

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