Good Fats and Bad Fats – Tips for Being Diet Smart

Tips for being diet smart to help you live healthy

For many years, the general advice has been to eat a low-fat diet to enjoy optimal health, but this wisdom is quickly going in the other direction. Scientists now realize that fat and, how the body processes and uses it, is much more complex than previously thought. For optimal functioning, the body requires fat, but the key here is that it has to be the right kinds of fat. Of course, moderation also plays a critical role, but knowing about the different kinds of fats and which are considered bad fats and good fats can help you to enjoy a more varied and healthy diet.

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Monounsaturated Fat

Monounsaturated fats are one of the good fats that you need for optimal health. You will find this type of fat in olive and canola oils, avocados and most nuts. Incorporate monounsaturated fats into your diet by replacing cream cheese with avocado on a bagel. You can also flavor your mashed potatoes with garlic and olive oil instead of using butter and milk. These changes will also reduce the amount of calories you take in, helping you to either maintain a healthy weight or lose weight quickly.

Saturated Fat

Saturated fats are a type of bad fat present in many everyday foods like red meat and dairy products. This type of fat is also present in certain oils that many people consider quite healthy, such as palm oil, coconut oil and kernel oil. You can still enjoy foods that contain saturated fats, but make sure that they do not amount to more than 10 percent of your diet each day. Ideally, you will work to avoid saturated fats most days of the week and when you do eat foods that contain them, you will eat a small portion, such as no more than four to six ounces of steak.

Polyunsaturated Fat

Polyunsaturated fats are a good type of fat and the two types include omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats. Doctors are most concerned about dietary intake of omega-3 fats because most people in the United States get more than enough omega-6 fats in their diet. Many people do not get enough omega-3 fats each day and this can lead to health issues because these fats play many roles in the body, such as protection against stroke and heart attack, building brain cell membranes and controlling the clotting of blood.

Get more polyunsaturated fats in your diet by adding a tablespoon of flaxseed to your morning cereal, smoothie or oatmeal. You can also add this to muffins and cookies when you bake at home. Grab a quick omega fat dose any time of the day by enjoying a serving of walnuts.

Trans Fat

Trans fats are bad fats and considered to be the worst of the bad fats. These fats result from adding hydrogen to vegetable oil so that packaged foods last a lot longer. You will find this type of fats in foods like cookies, crackers and other processed foods. It is important to note that even if a food package claims that it is free of trans fats, it can still contain up to 0.5 grams per serving. It is important to avoid this type of fat as much as possible. You can find it in foods by looking for partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated oils on the nutrition label.

Ill Effects of Bad Fats

Bad fats can cause a variety of health issues over time. To avoid these issues, you should strive to eat five grams or less of trans fats each day. When it comes to saturated fats, women should eat less than 20 grams per day and men should eat less than 30 grams per day.

When you consume too many bad fats, there are several negative health effects that may occur. These fats increase your risk of stroke and heart attack because they increase bad cholesterol levels in the body. High cholesterol levels can result in deposits of plaque in your blood vessels which can reduce blood flow at the area of the blockage. High cholesterol also increases the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, colon cancer and obesity.

Benefits of Good Fats

Good fats play many roles in the body and when you get adequate amounts of healthy fats, you are working to reduce your risk of diseases, such as certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. Healthy fats make you feel full longer, making them ideal for suppressing your appetite to either lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. They also help your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E and K.

Identifying the Fats in Foods

When you purchase foods with a nutrition label, and most foods do contain one, the label will tell you exactly what fats are in the food and at what amount. Limit foods that are high in the bad fats because these increase the risk of catching various diseases. Another way to tell if something contains good fats or bad fats is to look at the state of the fat at room temperature. The good fats, such as olive oil, are usually liquid at room temperature while bad fats, such as margarine are usually semi-solid at room temperature.

Tips to help you reduce the intake of bad fats or increase the intake of good fats:

a)      Choose lean cuts of meat

b)      Steam, bake, grill or poach your food

c)      Trim away all visible fat

d)     Avoid dairy spreads on sandwiches

e)      Chose dairy products that are low in fat

f)       Use a tablespoon to always measure oils

g)      Grill foods instead of frying them

h)      Add more vegetables to your meat-based dishes and a smaller amount of meat

Now that you are armed with this important information, you can make better dietary choices. Choose foods that are very low in saturated and trans fats to protect your cardiovascular system and the rest of your body. When you get adequate amounts of healthy good fats and low amounts of bad fats, you create a healthy balance that allows you to enjoy optimal health.

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