Good fats are healthy and necessary! It’s true! So, what is the difference between good fat vs. bad fat? And how do you maximize the benefits of eating good fats?
Researchers have found that the amount of fat in the diet is not really linked with diseases, like breast cancer, colon cancer and heart disease. The amount of fat in your diet isn’t necessarily the cause of weight gain either. Fats are, in fact, an essential part of a healthy diet. Good fats give our bodies essential fatty acids, keep our skin soft, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, and are a great source of energizing fuel. But it’s easy to get confused about good fat vs. bad fat.
Good Fat vs. Bad Fat
We need some fat. Not the fat we get from Taco Bell or McDonald’s, but good fats from natural sources like avocados, nuts and seeds, and a little dark chocolate now and then. We just need to choose the right type of fat. Easy right? Unfortunately, it can be absolutely confusing. It’s especially confusing when we start talking about cholesterol and fat and how they function to enhance or decrease our risk of illness and disease. So, let’s keep it simple.
Cholesterol and Fat Facts
- “The Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial showed that eating a low-fat diet for eight years did not prevent heart disease, breast cancer, or colon cancer, and didn’t do much for weight loss, either,” according to an article from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), December 2006.
- The main problem with cholesterol is not so much in the dietary cholesterol as it is in the blood cholesterol level. High blood cholesterol levels greatly increase the risk of heart disease.
- The biggest influence on the blood cholesterol level is the mix of good fats and bad fats in the diet.
- It’s still important to limit the amount of cholesterol in your diet. However, the average person makes 75-percent of blood cholesterol in the liver, while 25-percent is derived from food.
- Good fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase your HDL (good cholesterol). These fats prevent clogged arteries that block the flow of blood to the heart. Some monounsaturated fats are: olives, olive oil, canola oil, cashews, almonds and other nuts, and avocados. Some polyunsaturated fats include corn, safflower and cottonseed oil, as well as fish.
- The fats you definitely want to limit are the saturated fats.
- The fats to completely eliminate from your diet are the trans fats. Manufacturers are required to list the amount of trans fat in their products, so check out the label before you buy.
Tips for lowering your trans fat intake:
- Choose cooking oils that contain little or no trans fat, such as olive, canola, sesame, avocado, safflower, sunflower, and flax seed oils. Coconut oil has more saturated fat but is cholesterol free.
- Reduce intake of commercially prepared baked goods, snack foods, and processed foods, including fast foods.
- When foods containing partially hydrogenated oils can’t be avoided, choose products that list the partially hydrogenated oils near the end of the ingredient list.
- To avoid trans fat in restaurants, avoid deep fried foods, because many restaurants still fry with partially hydrogenated oils.
If you’re worried about your cholesterol or have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, acupuncture and Chinese herbs are natural options to help you lower your blood cholesterol. Make an appointment today to find out how I can help.