Fats are always viewed as the evil foods but yet, the most delicious ones. The quantity of fat you eat matters a lot, as well as the type you eat, so you shouldn’t have to cut it out of your diet completely. Believe it or not there are “good fats” and “bad fats”. The bad fats are saturated fats and trans fat, and the good fats are monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids.
A diet high in bad fats increases your risk for heart disease, but consuming more of the “good fats” can actually be beneficial for your heart. The common thing about all fats is that they’re all high in calories so you should watch your portion sizes and have them with moderation. For a healthier diet try substituting the “bad fats” with the “good fats”.
Let’s go into a little detail about each of the fats mentioned above.
Saturated fat raises the level of cholesterol in the blood, which increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Having diabetes makes you at a high risk for heart disease, and that is why you should limit your intake of saturated fat. The chemical structure of saturated fat makes them generally solid at room temperature.
Some of the foods that contain saturated fat are; butter, chocolate, palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut, coconut oil, high-fat meats (lamb, minced or ground beef, sausage and hot dogs), high-fat dairy products (full-fat cheese, ice-cream, cream, sour cream, whole milk, and reduced fat-2% milk), and chicken and turkey skin.
Trans fat works the same as saturated fat does, increases blood cholesterol levels, but is even more dangerous. The chemical structure of this bad fat makes it very difficult for the body to digest this fat properly. Trans fats are made by a process called hydrogenation, and this is when liquid oil is turned into solid fat. The main reasons trans fats are used widely are because they are cheap and they give products a longer shelf life.
The reason monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated are considered healthy or good fats are because they can lower your LDL levels, commonly known as bad cholesterol.
Some good sources of MUFA’s are; nuts (almonds, peanuts, pecans, and cashews), sesame seeds, avocados, olives, olive oil, peanut butter, peanut oil, and canola oil.
Good sources of PUFA’s are; walnuts, soft margarine (not stick), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, mayonnaise, and some salad dressings.
You should always remember that they are still high in calories and should be consumed with moderation, especially if you are planning to lose some weight. You can also substitute butter or margarine with any of the oils mentioned here for a healthier recipe. The nuts and seeds are great sources of the healthy fats but you should limit yourself to small portions to avoid weight gain.
Last but not least, Omega-3 fatty acids are great sources of the good kind of fat, they help lower your risk for heart disease and they do that by keeping your arteries clean and clog-free. Also, they do many wonderful things in the body to ensure it functioning at it’s best.
For all the lucky people that love seafood, fish is a great source of omega-3 FA’s, the richest sources are found in; tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel. As for those who aren’t big fish eaters, omega’3’s can also be found in walnuts, canola oil, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, tofu, and soybeans. You can also get a omega-3 supplements if you can’t get enough from your diet.
Knowing the sources of the “good and bad fats” will hopefully help you make better food choices and encourage you to choose the “good fats” over the “bad ones”, giving you a healthier diet in general. Controlling your fat intake will help reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke, especially for people with diabetes since they’re already at an increased risk for those chronic illnesses. Also, better management will help reach a healthy weight and maintain it in the long run.