Despite what you may have been told, fat isn’t necessarily always bad for you. Bad fat, such as trans fat and saturated fat, are very unhealthy, causing weight gain, clogged arteries and such. But there is also good fat, such as monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and omega-3s. In fact, healthy fat play a big role in helping you manage your moods, stay on top of your mental game, fight fatigue, and even control your weight.
Instead of completely cutting out all fat from your diet, you should learn to make healthy choices and replace the bad fat with good ones in order to improve your health and well-being.
Monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat are known as the good fat because they are good for your heart, cholesterol, and overall health.
Monounsaturated fat is found in foods such as:
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Sunflower oil
- Peanut oil
- Sesame oil
- Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
- Peanut butter
Polyunsaturated fat is found in foods such as:
- Soybean oil
- Corn oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower, sesame, pumpkin seeds
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackeral, herring, trout, sardines)
In general, saturated fat and trans fat are regarded as bad fats because they increase your risk of disease and elevate cholesterol. There are however, rare exceptions like in the case of butter, which contains saturated fat rich in fatty acids like conjugated linoleic acid, oleic acid and myristic acid, which some scientists believe have cancer-fighting properties.
Appearance-wise, saturated fat and trans fat tend to be solid at room temperature, while monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat tend to be liquid.
Saturated fat is found in food such as:
- High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork)
- Chicken with the skin
- Whole-fat dairy products (milk and cream)
- Ice cream
- Palm and coconut oil
Trans fat is found in food such as:
- Commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough
- Packaged snack foods (Crackers, microwave popcorn, chips)
- Stick margarine
- Vegetable shortening
- Fried foods (french fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish)
- Candy bars
If you are concerned about your weight or heart health, instead of completely avoiding fat in your diet, try replacing trans fat and saturated fat with good fat. This might mean replacing fried chicken with fresh fish, swapping some of the meat you eat with beans and legumes, or using olive oil rather than butter.
Try to eliminate trans fat from your diet by checking food labels. Avoiding commercially-baked goods and limiting your intake of fast food will also help. Cutting down on your intake of saturated fat by eating less red meat and full-fat dairy foods will be beneficial. Try replacing red meat with beans, nuts, poultry, and fish whenever possible, and switch from full-fat dairy foods to low fat versions. Eating omega-3 fats every day is also advisable. Good sources of omega-3 include fish, walnuts, ground flax seeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil.
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