Is there such a thing as healthy fat? What should you avoid, and what should you seek out? Get your fat facts here. Our tips for managing fat intake in your diet will help you avoid misconceptions and unnecessary restrictions. Here are 7 things you need to know about fat.
1. Trans fats are just bad for you.
You’ve heard that there are good and bad fats; trans fatty acids are, hands-down, bad fats. Trans fats come from oils that are processed into a solid form. They extend the shelf life of the products they’re used in, making them appealing to pre-packaged food manufacturers. But they tend to increase LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and interfere with the body’s ability to absorb healthy omega-3 fatty acids. If the words “hydrogenated” or “partially-hydrogenated” appear in an ingredient list, that’s a red flag for trans fats.
2. Saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is a measure of fatty substances in the blood. The bad type of cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein), is the kind that clogs arteries. Saturated fats, found in dairy products and red meat, may raise levels of LDL cholesterol. But the research is not quite certain on this front. There’s no need to cut out saturated fats completely, but moderation is a good idea.
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3. You need a balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
We need both types of fatty acids in our diets, but the Standard American Diet far overemphasizes omega-6. That’s because this fatty acid is prevalent in corn and soy products, which dominate the market. Boosting omega-3 intake can decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke as well as help maintain a healthy weight. Some good sources are fish, walnuts, flax seeds, and leafy greens. Our Nutty Banana Blueberry Oatmeal recipe is high in omega-3’s.
4. Healthy fats:
Monounsaturated fat is believed to contribute to healthy cholesterol levels by lowering LDL levels without lowering HDL levels; HDL helps usher fats out of the bloodstream.
Polyunsaturated fats are beneficial to heart health as well as helping to rid fats from the blood and lower heart disease and stroke risk.
5. Best cooking oils:
Olive oil (high in monounsaturated fat)
Canola oil (high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats)
6. Worst cooking oils:
Vegetable, safflower, corn, cottonseed, soy (high in omega-6)
7. (Most) nuts are good for you.
Nuts are high in fat and calories. Doesn’t sound so good, right? The kind of fat found in most nuts is omega-3, which can lower cholesterol and help prevent health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. They give you great nutritional returns for the calories. It’s best to avoid salted nuts roasted in oil. Check out our Slow Cooker Cinnamon & Honey Nuts recipe for a delicious snack.
Bottom line: Get most of your fats from mono-and polyunsaturated sources, go easy on the saturated fats and eliminate trans fats from your diet altogether. For more dietary advice, sign up for our newsletter. Like our Facebook and Pinterest pages for regular recipe updates.