Do you know what is considered “healthy fats”?
Healthy eating tip: Enjoy healthy fats
Despite what you may have been told, not all fats are unhealthy. While “bad” fats can increase your risk of certain diseases, “good” fats are essential to physical and emotional health. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats, for example, can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, improve your mood, and help prevent dementia.
Fat helps the body in many different ways:
- Fat deposits surround and protect organs, such as the kidneys, heart, and liver
- Fat balances hormones
- A layer of fat beneath the skin, known as subcutaneous fat, insulates the body from environmental temperature changes, thereby preserving body heat
- Dietary fat acts as a long-lasting fuel source for low-intensity exercise
- Dietary fat provides fat-soluble vitamins and vitamins A, D, E, and K
- Monounsaturated fats from avocados, olives, nuts (like almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, and pecans), and seeds (such as pumpkin and sesame).
- Polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3s, found fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, some cold water fish oil supplements and non-GMO sources of soymilk and tofu. Good vegetarian sources of polyunsaturated fats include flaxseed, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds and walnuts.
- Trans fats, found in processed foods, vegetable shortenings, margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, or anything with “partially hydrogenated” oil in the ingredients, even if it claims to be trans-fat free.
The debate about saturated fats
Saturated fats are mainly found in tropical oils, dairy, and animal products such as red meat, while poultry and fish also contain some saturated fat. The latest news in the nutritional world studies—with old and new studies to back them up—suggest that not all saturated fat is a dietary demon, either. While many prominent health organizations maintain that eating saturated fat from any source increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, other nutrition experts take a different view. The new argument is that saturated fat contributes to weight control and overall health.
Of course, not all saturated fat is the same. The saturated fat in whole milk, coconut oil, or salmon is different to the unhealthy saturated fat found in pizza, French fries, and processed meat products (such as ham, sausage, hot dogs, salami, and other cold cuts) which have been linked to coronary disease and cancer.