Fat - The Truth About Fat And Health

Eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet." Has been stated by many in the diet community as a way to prevent disease and be healthy.

Most of us have heard this phrase however is misleading.

The total amount of fat in the diet, whether high or low, isn't however directly linked to disease.

Fats are part of the natural food chain of humans and we all need a certain amount of fats to healthy.

Healthy fats

Bad fats increase the risk for certain diseases and good fats lower the risk. The key is to make sure your eating the right fats.

Fats that are actually healthy Are referred to as "essential fatty acids." These fats are required for health and life and actually lower risk of heart disease.

For example, the reason oily fish is so good for you is that the essential fatty acids which can actually help your body burn fat more efficiently and protect against disease.

The truth about cholesterol

Although it is still important to limit the amount of cholesterol your eat, dietary cholesterol is not bad on its own the key with cholesterol is the amount in the bloodstream.

High blood cholesterol levels increase the risk for heart disease, but the average person makes about 75% of blood cholesterol in their liver; only about 25% is absorbed from food.

The biggest influence on blood cholesterol level and the risk of illness is the mix of fats in the diet.

Saturated and unsaturated fats

Saturated fats raise cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.

They are found primarily in animal sources such as fatty meats, whole fat dairy products, lard, and shortening.

A recent study showed that people with a high intake of saturated fat increased their risk of fatal heart disease by 38 percent

Unsaturated fats lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

These fats are good and come primarily from vegetable oils. Examples of healthy fats include olive, Canola, and soy oils.

While these fats include the essential fatty acids, they are high in calories and should not be eaten to excess.

The best sources of unsaturated fats are those found in whole foods such as nuts, unprocessed nut butters, seeds, olives, and avocados.

These foods are naturally rich in unsaturated fats but also contribute vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.

Knowing if fats are good or bad

There is a simple general rule for checking if a fat is good or bad and it is:

If a fat is solid at room temperature, like butter or margarine, its unhealthy, a couple of exceptions are palm and coconut oil.

Solid fats are primarily stored as body fat and increase cholesterol levels and risk of disease.

Good fats include Safflower oil, sesame oil, and canola oil. Just a table spoon per day can give you all the fatty acids you need.

Trans Fats

Trans fatty acids are a third group of fats that are common in processed foods and are formed when vegetable oils are "hydrogenated" or turned into a solid fat i.e margarine, shortening, many deep fat frying oils, and most processed or fast foods

Trans fatty acids are bad in two ways

They raise blood cholesterol levels (LDL cholesterol) and lower the protective HDL particles in the blood. Only small amounts eaten can increase the rate of heart attacks dramatically.

Trans fatty acids can be detected by looking at the ingredients on the packaging of the food. If the words, "partially hydrogenated oils" are there, the food contains trans fats.

Fats as part of a healthy diet

Your fat intake between 20 and 35 percent of total daily calories, with less than seven percent coming from saturated fats.

Eat primarily a plant based diet high in vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, fruits, whole grain breads and cereals, and unhydrogenated vegetable oils.

These foods have the advantage of being are cholesterol-free, have no animal fats, have dietary fiber and essential fatty acids.

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