Why all fats are not the enemy
The first thing that comes to many people’s minds when talking about fat in our food is a myriad of unhealthy foods such as chocolate cake or cheese fries. Fatty foods have a bad reputation because we know that when we eat a lot of unhealthy foods, it makes us gain weight. In fact, we get so used to eating fatty foods that it makes it easy for us to overeat as well as make us crave fatty foods when we are hungry. What we sometimes don’t realize is that there are more than one type of fat, and the right amount of good fats in our diet can actually help us shed some extra weight. Regardless of the types of fats you are eating, moderation is always an important aspect in maintaining or losing weight.
What fats do for our bodies
Fat plays an important role in delivering nutrients to our bodies. Many vitamins we need are fat-soluble (vitamins A, E, and K for example), meaning they need to bind to fat in order to be absorbed.
Dietary fats can aid in hormone production as well. A healthy amount of fat regulates hormone production levels, and are structural components of very important substances in the body. Prostaglandins, for example, are hormone-like substances that regulate many of the body’s basic functions.
The benefits of good fats don’t stop there! The help build your brain, but they build healthy cells, give you energy, and keep your skin in good condition.
Difference of types of fats in food
Unsaturated fats are beneficial to heart health and improves blood cholesterol levels. are separated into two categories:
Monounsaturated Fats (Good Fats)
Found in many foods and oils and it’s said to regulate blood insulin levels and sugar which is beneficial to those who have type 2 diabetes.
Polyunsaturated Fats (Good Fats)
Found mostly in plant-based foods and oils help decrease the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These are your Omega-3’s and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Saturated Fats (Bad Fats)
Harmful to heart and cholesterol levels.
Trans fats (Bad Fats)
Man-made fats and cause higher bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol
You may not even know if a product has trans fats. Foods with under 0.5 grams of trans fat can be labeled “0 grams of trans fat” or “no trans fat.” Certain foods contain hydrogenated fats, oils, or partially hydrogenated fats or oils.
What foods contain each fat
Olive, canola, sunflower, peanut, and sesame oils
Almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and cashews
Soybean, corn, and safflower oils
Pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds
Tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, and sardines
High-fat cuts of meat such as lamb, pork, and beef
Whole fat dairy products
Palm and coconut oils
Chicken with the skin
Commercially packaged snack cakes, cookies, and muffins
Packaged snack foods such as chips, popcorn, and crackers
Be cautious when choosing low-fat foods because sometimes lower fat means higher sugar. Lowering your bad fat intake isn’t an all-or-nothing deal, the lower you go doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing the best thing for your body.
The low-fat label on foods can lead some people to overindulge, focusing so heavily on the fat content, that the calorie and sugar content goes unnoticed. When you’re eating, you are not just eating fat or just eating vitamins, you are eating a combination of all different nutrients your body needs. The hardest part is knowing how to balance that intake. For example, a fat-free dressing on a salad isn’t helping absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in the vegetables.
If you are thinking about reducing the fat in your diet, choose to reduce bad fats specifically. Also be wise when swapping out your saturated or trans fats with other types of food. Swapping bacon with breakfast with a bagel may sound like a healthy choice, but eating refined carbohydrates and sugar in place of saturated fats aren’t necessarily a healthier choice.