Fat is a type of nutrient found in both plants and animals. It’s a source of energy, and it also helps the body absorb vitamins and minerals from food. It builds nerve tissue, hormones and controls inflammation.
But while some fats are good for you, others can cause problems like weight gain and heart disease. Understanding the differences between healthy and unhealthy fats is important to maintaining a healthy diet.
Saturated and Trans Fats
Saturated fats, or fatty acids, are found mainly in red meat, butter and dairy products that contain whole milk and cheese. These saturated fats can raise LDL cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease.
However, they are not bad for you if you consume them in moderation. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends that you eat no more than 5-6 grams of saturated fat per day.
Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats
These types of fats are considered healthy for your heart because they help lower your cholesterol level. Monounsaturated are found in many types of foods and oils, including olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil, fatty fish and nuts.
They are also associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. They are also essential for brain health, and may improve memory, muscle function and overall fitness.
The best sources of these kinds of fats are plant-based and nut-based products, as well as foods that have been cooked in vegetable oils. Examples of these include avocados, canola oil, olive oil and fatty fish.
Monounsaturated fats are linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and high blood cholesterol, while polyunsaturated fats have been shown to reduce inflammation and lower LDL cholesterol levels.
They can also be found in fish, nuts, seeds and olive oil. The omega-3 fatty acids in these fats are thought to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and decrease the risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition to these, there are other types of fats that are not recommended for you. These include industrially-made trans fats, which are often present in fried foods and some margarines.
Some experts believe that trans fats are even worse than saturated fats. They are a type of fat that is created during the process of hydrogenation and is present in foods like fried foods, packaged snack foods, and some margarines.
It’s important to avoid trans fats because they increase your cholesterol levels and may lead to other health concerns such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. To make sure that you’re avoiding trans fats, read the labels on all the foods you buy and don’t purchase products with a label that says “partially hydrogenated oil” or other similar terms.
The key to avoiding bad fats is to replace them with healthier, more nutritious options. Choosing fats that are naturally occurring in foods, such as avocados, fatty fish and coconut oil, is the best way to ensure you’re getting the most nutrition from your diet.