If our lives were a cartoon, fat would be a little creature dressed in a red suit with a pitch fork and smoke coming out of his ears. We’ve taken a perfectly healthy component of our diet and altered it in a way that makes it a nightmare to our well being. Fat, as […]
If our lives were a cartoon, fat would be a little creature dressed in a red suit with a pitch fork and smoke coming out of his ears. We’ve taken a perfectly healthy component of our diet and altered it in a way that makes it a nightmare to our well being. Fat, as we know it, exists in French fries, chicken wings, mayo, bacon and other malicious foods. So what do we do? We avoid it all together, eliminating as much as possible from our diets.
In our efforts to become healthier, by reducing or eliminating fat we only cause the pendulum to swing to the opposite extreme, making us no healthier than before. Sure, you may be less likely to have clogged arteries but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a heart attack. Fat has a place in your diet – and a substantial one at that! For most people, between 20 and 30 percent of your diet should be good, healthy fats. (Yes, I’m generalizing here because some people do have health conditions that will make this percent change up or down slightly). Let me repeat this, approximately 20 to 30 percent of your diet should come from GOOD, HEALTHY FATS!
In order to understand what good, healthy fats are, you need to understand all types of fat so you can differentiate them. Bad fats are trans fats. Trans fats come from partially hydrogenated oils, shortening and margarine, usually found in commercially produced fried foods and baked goods (crackers, doughnuts, cookies, cakes, etc). Moderate fats are saturated fats. These don’t really fall into the good or bad category but they should only be consumed in moderation. Saturated fats are found in animal products (meat, seafood, eggs, dairy products, butter, etc), and coconut, palm and other tropical oils. Good fats are unsaturated, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. Monounsaturated fats come from olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats come from vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in some fishes (salmon, mackerel and herring), flaxseeds, flax oil and walnuts.
What makes bad fats bad and good fats good? Bad fats, trans and saturated, are solid at room temperature and they are the ones responsible for increasing cholesterol (particularly the bad, “LDL” cholesterol) and for clogging arteries. Good fats, unsaturated, are liquid at room temperature and they can help lower your cholesterol. Think of it like this – bad fats are the junk that accumulates in your sink drain (ie your arteries) and good fats act like Draino.
But that’s not all; fats do more than help with cholesterol levels. Fat actually helps your glucose and insulin levels normal, which helps with weight control. Eating a meal high in carbohydrates, particularly sugary carbs, and low in fat only promotes a spikes a blood sugar. When your blood sugar spikes, insulin responds by trying to remove the sugar from your blood stream, often overdoing it and then leaving you feeling hungry. By eating balanced meals with fat, carbs and protein, you help balance your blood sugar response which keeps you feeling fuller longer and prevents excess fat gain.
That’s the short version of why fat is NOT the enemy. Take away point: eat good fats from olive oil, nuts and fish, some animal fats from dairy and meats and avoid fried foods and other trans fats at all cost.