Health & Happiness: Healthy Fats vs. Bad Fats: Part 1, How to Tell the Difference
By Aloha Curves/Jenny Craig
Staying away from fats is a strategy many people use to lose weight. However, you may actually be doing more harm than good, because there is such a thing as healthy fat and you may not be getting enough of it. Good fats help increase good cholesterol (HDL, high-density lipoprotein), deliver nutrients throughout your body, reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and lower bad cholesterol (LDL, low-density lipoprotein) and triglyceride levels.
While all types of fats will expand your waistline, it’s best to cut the bad fats and take in the good, in moderation, of course. Fat is a fundamental part of your diet and not getting enough of it can be a detriment to your health. It is important that you are eating enough fat in your diet and to make sure you are choosing the correct fats. The recommended daily value of fat is 20-30%. So, if you are trying to lose weight (about a pound per week), you should be eating 33-50 grams of fat per day (based on a 1500 calorie menu). Now let’s dive into how to tell the difference between the healthy and not so healthy fats.
The Bad Fats
Bad fats include trans-fats and saturated fats. These fats increase bad cholesterol (LDL), while decreasing good, HDL cholesterol and ultimately increase your risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Trans fats are the worst for you. A mostly man-made fat, trans fat is primarily created by taking a healthy oil and turning it into a solid through a process called hydrogenation.
In the early 20th century, it was found only in vegetable shortening and margarine, but then companies started putting trans-fat in everything from cookies to French fries. No level is safe or has any benefit, so food makers are quickly eliminating this nasty fat from their products. Be sure to check food labels for “partially hydrogenated oil” to avoid trans-fat in your diet.
Saturated fat can also be considered a “bad guy.” Saturated fat occurs naturally in animal products (meat, dairy, eggs) and vegetable fats that are liquid at room temperature (palm and coconut oils). It’s best to limit saturated fats to just 10% or less of your total calories, according to the US Dietary Guidelines.
Even though most people know that trans fats and saturated fats are bad, the question still arises, “Is it okay to eat small quantities of bad fats?” As stated above, no level of trans fats are safe to eat. But, on the other hand, saturated fats are not as harmful as trans fats. While they still will negatively impact your health, small portions of these fats are okay, as long as you stay below 10% of total calories. It is recommended to consume saturated fats in moderation though as they are still considered a less healthy fat.
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