Fats have been placed on the "no touch" shelf for many people. This is a common misconception, that is that all fats are bad for us, and that they should not be eaten at all costs. On the contrary, many fats are very healthy and are a great addition to a wholesome, nutritious diet.
More specifically, many fats are healthy for the heart. Heart-healthy fats may help lower your risk of heart disease if you eat them in place of unhealthy fats.
Some heart healthy fats are the following :
• Omega-3 fatty acids - can help lower triglycerides, a type of fat that clogs arteries.
It is found in oily fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, and sardines.
Other good sources are ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil, soybeans, walnuts, and seeds.
• Monounsaturated fats - can help lower "bad" (LDL) cholesterol and raise "good" (HDL) cholesterol.
Good sources are olives, avocados, nuts, and nut butters. Oils include canola, olive, and peanut.
Polyunsaturated fats - can help lower LDL cholesterol.
Sources are vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, sesame, soybean, and corn oils.
What are unhealthy fats?
If you eat too much of them, high cholesterol may rise and risk of heart disease increases.
- Saturated fats are mostly in animal foods, such as meat and dairy. Tropical oils, such as coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter, are also saturated fats.
- Trans fats include partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Hydrogenation is a process in which a liquid unsaturated fat is turned into a solid fat by adding hydrogen. During this manufactured partially hydrogenated processing, a type of fat called trans fat is made.
Trans fats are in many processed foods, such as cookies, crackers, and snack foods.
- Cholesterol is found only in animal foods, such as eggs, whole-milk dairy foods, and meats.
Some tips to eat healthier and reduce unhealthy fats are
- Eat more veggies and fruits, while reducing processed, sugar-laden foods. Decrease intake of grains, when eating grains chose whole grains.
- Meats, particularly red-meats should be a side, and not the primarily meal.
- Increase omega-3 fatty acids, for example have fish twice a week.
- Add ground flaxseed to cereals, soups, and smoothies. Sprinkle nuts on salads
- Bake, steam, or grill foods. Use low sodium broth, or the natural fats instead of oil.