GOOD FATS VS. BAD FATS So you’ve decided to eat healthy, maybe you want to drop a dress size or two, you think you’ll just eliminate fat from your diet and voila you’re on the road to a fit and healthy lifestyle - well think again! Recent scientific and medical research would do away the myth that all fat is bad for you, deeming such views naïve, outdated and highly misleading. Whilst it is fact that excessive consumption of fat is bad for you, it is not nearly sufficient to leave it at that. For we must acknowledge that there are actually different types of fat, some bad, some good, some even essential for physical and emotional health and wellbeing. When we talk about ‘good’ fats, we are referring mainly to monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Whilst both types help lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, monounsaturated fats are also known to boost HDL (good) cholesterol – many people remain unaware that a certain amount of cholesterol is vital in the body (only when it is excessive can it become dangerous). Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated which prove especially beneficial for both the brain and the heart. These ‘superfats’, whilst unable to be manufactured by our bodies, play a vital role in cognitive function, sharpening memory, and helping combat depression and ADHD, whilst also reducing blood pressure, risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Monounsaturated fats – also thought to help in weight loss – can be found in: Nuts including almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, peanuts and peanut butter! (Purchase the ‘Natural’ version, which does not use partially hydrogenated oils in their processing) Avocado. Canola, sunflower and sesame oils (these oils must be cold pressed). Olives and olive oil. Polyunsaturated fats are found in: Corn, flaxseed, soy, safflower and sunflower oils. Cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and herring (all excellent sources of omega-3 fats). Sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds. Walnuts. Dark leafy greens. ‘Bad’ fats, tending to be solid at room temperature, are considered to be saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fats can raise total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, contributing to weight gain, clogging of arteries and risk of heart disease. However, when eaten in moderation, particularly from good, natural sources, they can be extremely beneficial to the body, playing a vital role in cell structure, calcium incorporation into the bones, the nervous and digestive systems, and immune function. Try to opt for pasture fed, non- treated organic eggs, dairy, meat and poultry where possible. Trans fats, (the result of man hydrogenating liquid oils to increase shelf life) are definitively the worst sort of fats, raising total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and lowering HDL (good) cholesterol! Trans fats also negatively impact on our nervous system, as well as our blood vessels and waistline! Saturated fats - mainly found in animal products – are contained in: Fatty meat such as beef, lamb, pork, and chicken with skin left on. Full-fat dairy products; milk, butter, cheese, cream and ice cream. Eggs. Lard. Certain plant foods like coconut oil and palm oil. Man-made trans fats lurk in many commercially-produced foods and snacks including: Fried foods from fast food chains (chicken nuggets, French fries etc.) Commercially-baked pastries, pizza, cookies, doughnuts and cakes. Packaged snack foods like potato chips and microwave popcorn. Candy bars. Margarine. Now we ought to have established that all fats are not created equal, and that they are not all bad for you – some even essential - providing a source of energy, protecting the heart, and helping nutrient absorption and nerve transmission. Some fats help our sugar and insulin metabolism, thereby - contrary to popular opinion – actually supporting weight loss! So when it comes to fats, there are the good, the bad (or not so bad when taken in moderation), and the ugly (well maybe not the ‘ugly’ but certainly the ‘worst’!) Confused? – For anyone who might still be a little baffled by the apparent oxymoron; the ‘good fat’, the key is to try to follow these 4 simple steps: 1 - Reduce ‘bad’ saturated fat intake – without cutting it out altogether, as some is vital! (Remember some saturated fat is good for you, excessive amounts are bad!) 2 - Eliminate - or perhaps more realistically – limit ‘very bad’ trans fat consumption! 3 - Increase ‘good’ monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat intake, replacing bad fats with good fats where possible. 4 - Finally, apply a certain amount of common sense when it comes to diet! We can all turn a blind eye to a little bit of something ‘sinful’ now and again!
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