To lose or maintain our weight and to maintain good health, we’ve all heard the recommendation to eat a diet low in fat. While this may be true for fats that are considered bad for you, eating a diet high in good fats can actually help your body. Good fats can help you keep your heart healthy and some of them are essential to your physical and mental well being.
Good vs. Bad Fats
There are some fats that are essential for your body to have in order to work effectively. Good fats are important for the body to digest and, acting on their own, they don’t make you fat or unhealthy. Good fats are good for your overall health, in particular your heart and cholesterol. To readily identify what is a good fat and which is a bad fat, here is a guideline you can use when you shop for your groceries.
Good fats – Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. These include:
- Olive oil
- Soybean oil
- Canola oil
- Vegetable oil
- Fatty fish – such as tuna, salmon, herring, trout, sardines
- Nuts and Seeds – peanuts, walnuts, almond, pecans, chia seeds, sunflower and flax seeds
Bad fats – Saturated fats and trans fats. Included with these fats are:
- High-fat cuts of meat
- Ice Cream
- Palm and coconut oil
- Fried foods
- Candy bars
- Pre-packaged snack foods
Another easy way to remember it is that bad fats tend to solidify at room temperature, whereas good fats do not.
So Why Are Good Fats Good?
Diets high in good fats or plant-based fats have many health benefits. Studies show that they can help prevent and fight off cancers, such as breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer. Many doctors are recommending eating plant-based fats in every meal because another benefit to them is help with vitamin absorption. Good fats help break down the nutrients in foods and deliver more efficiently to your body. Vitamin D, Vitamin E, as well as Beta Carotene are all fat soluble and need them present to break down in your body.
All fats are needed within the body to help with nutrient absorption, nerve transmission and maintaining the structure of cell membrane, but it is when there is an excessive amount of fat in the diet that they hinder our health. In fact, plant-based fats can actually help with weight loss and improve cardiovascular health, but the bad fats need to be severely limited so they don’t have a negative impact on your body.
As a rule of thumb, when you are preparing your meals or heading to the grocery store, you want to:
- Eliminate trans fats from you diet. Check food labels for trans fats used in their production, limit your consumption of fast food and stop buying commercially prepared baked goods.
- Limit saturated fats in your diet. Cut back or replace red meats with beans, poultry, nuts and fish when you can. Switch from full-fat dairy products to low-fat dairy products.
- Eat foods with Omega 3 fatty acids each day.