Fats may have a bad reputation, but they're not all bad! There are actually many fats that your body needs to survive and thrive.
Fats provide us with energy, make us feel full, and can act as potential anti-inflammatories. In fact, eating low-fat foods may make you overeat because they are not as dense to fill your stomach!
In our diet, we tend to eat too many unhealthy fats versus healthy fats. Increasing intake of healthy fats includes adding food products such as nuts, olive oil, and canola oil. The fats floating around in a hearty serving of macaroni and cheese are not the same as a hearty serving of avocado.
There are saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, trans fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Confused? Don't worry - it's actually quite simple. Here's a breakdown, according to WebMD.
Monounsaturated fat: This fat is in avocado, nuts, and vegetable oils, such as canola, olive, and peanut oils. Eating foods that are high in monounsaturated fats may help lower your "bad" LDL cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats may also keep "good" HDL cholesterol levels high.
Polyunsaturated fat: This type of fat is mainly in vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, sesame, soybean, and corn oils. Polyunsaturated fat is also the main fat found in seafood. Eating polyunsaturated fat in place of saturated fat may lower LDL cholesterol. The two types of polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Saturated fat: Saturated fat is solid at room temperature, which is why it is also known as "solid fat." It is mostly in animal foods, such as milk, cheese, and meat. Poultry and fish have less saturated fat than red meat. Saturated fat is also in tropical oils, such as coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter. You'll find tropical oils in many snacks and in nondairy foods, such as coffee creamers and whipped toppings. Foods made with butter, margarine, or shortening (cakes, cookies, and other desserts) have a lot of saturated fat. Saturated fat can raise your cholesterol. A healthy diet has less than 10% of daily calories from saturated fat.
Trans fat: This is a fat that has been changed by a process called hydrogenation. This process increases the shelf life of fat and makes the fat harder at room temperature. Harder fat makes crispier crackers and flakier pie crusts. Trans fat can raise your cholesterol, so eat as little trans fat as possible. You'll find it in:
Snack foods, such as chips and crackers.
Some margarine and salad dressings.
Foods made with shortening and partially hydrogenated oils.
So don't "Avoid fats at all costs," but definitely "Avoid unhealthy fats at all costs!" With special caution, you'll be eating fats and living healthy!