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The Skinny on Fat

  • 2.14.2020

The Skinny on Fat
It’s likely that you’ve heard the phrases “good fat” and “bad fat” before.

You might have even used them to justify eating the flesh of a ripe avocado right out of its skin with a spoon…or maybe that’s just me. But I’m not a fan of this harsh dichotomy of good-versus-bad when it comes to nutrition. Instead, I like to focus on the role these nutrients play when they’re inside your body. Now introducing: helpful fats and unhelpful fats.

Helpful Fats

There are 4 basic types of fats: monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats, and trans fatty acids (or trans fats). The first two are what you might have heard of as “good” fats. They still have the same dense nine calories per gram as all the other fats, but once they’re in your body they support processes that are vital to maintaining your health. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help to transport vitamins A, D, E, and K, so they can be absorbed by your body.

They also can increase HDL cholesterol, the type of cholesterol that helps flush dangerous plaque from your arteries. By eating foods with unsaturated fat in place of carbs or foods with saturated fat, you may be able to decrease your overall risk of heart disease.

Sources of monounsaturated fats: olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, nuts, avocados, and seeds.

Sources of polyunsaturated fats: corn oil, soybean oil, and some fish like salmon and trout.


Unhelpful Fats

Saturated fats and trans fats are considered unhelpful because they raise LDL, the type of cholesterol that can cause plaque build-up in arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Saturated fats are largely found in rich animal products, and they are usually solid at room temperature. While these are natural sources of fat, they still can put your body at risks if you’re not limiting your intake.

Trans fats, on the other hand, have the potential to cause serious harm. In November 2013, the FDA released a statement that trans fat could no longer be “generally recognized as safe.” Rarely found in nature, trans fats are created through a process called hydrogenation where extra hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oil, rendering it solid and dangerous.

One of the most popular sources of trans fats is shortening–the butter-like substances reputed for its long shelf life and its ability to maintain structure in baked goods. This type of fat doesn’t play fair. It not only raises LDL, but has been known to lower HDL too.

Sources of saturated fats: whole milk dairy products like butter and ice cream, red meat, poultry with skin, certain nuts like macadamia, and coconut oil.

Sources of trans fats: baked goods made with shortening such as pie crusts and packaged cookies, certain brands of margarine, and non-dairy creamers.

Where to Buy: Healthy foods, iHerb.com

The Skinny on Fat

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© The Natural Way: Health & BeautyMaira Gall