Confused about fats? Do not be. It’s really very simple. There are three types of naturally occurring fats: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated. A fourth type of fat – “trans fat” – is largely artificial. Here is what you need to know.
While some of them are recognized as “good” fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) because they are essential to our diet, “bad” fats (saturated and trans fats) should be avoided. Here is what you need to know about each of them, the scientific side less.
- This type of fat should play a leading role in your diet (at least with regard to fat).
- These fats are the stars of the so-called Mediterranean diet, known to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Olive oil is a main source. It is also found in canola oil, seeds, nuts and avocados.
- This form of fat is very common in vegetable oils, nuts, fish and some green leafy vegetables.
- There are two main types: omega-6, which we eat very often from vegetable oils, and omega-3s, which are found mainly in fish and some seeds, which we consume rather rarely.
- Try to consume more omega-3 fatty acids while reducing the amount of omega-6.
- This form of fat is present in very large quantities in products of animal origin, and in palm and coconut oils.
- Saturated fats increase the rate of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and can increase the risk of heart disease.
- In reality, if you replace only five percent of your total calories from saturated fat to unsaturated fat, this could reduce your risk of fatal heart attack by 42 percent.
- Trans fat is created when polyunsaturated fat is mixed with hydrogen to make it solid at room temperature.
- They not only increase LDL levels, but can also decrease HDL levels. They play a role in heart disease and breast cancer.
- When it comes to trans fat, there is no tolerable level even if it is found in all processed foods.
However, there are many options today without trans fat; look for keywords on the labels to find out what to avoid.