Good Fats and Bad Fats

Ever wonder what makes some fats good and others bad?  The fact is: we all need fats, because fats help nutrient absorption, nerve transmission, to mention a few.  Fats are not created equal. Some fats promote our health positively while others increase our risks of heart disease. The key is to replace bad fats with good fats in our diet.

Monounsaturated Fats lower total cholesterol and LDL or bad cholesterol while increasing HDL or the good cholesterol. Nuts including peanuts, walnuts, almonds and pistachios, avocado, canola and olive oil are great monounsaturated fats. They also have been found to help in weight loss, particularly body fat.

Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Seafood like salmon and fish oil, as well as corn, soy, safflower and sunflower oils are high in polyunsaturated fats. Omega 3 fatty acids belong to this group.

Saturated fats raise total blood cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol or the bad cholesterol. Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs and seafood.

Some plant foods are also high in saturated fats such as coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil.

Trans fats were invented as scientists began to “hydrogenate” liquid oils so that they could withstand better in food production process and provide a better shelf life.

As a result of hydrogenation, trans fatty acids are formed. Trans fatty acids are found in many commercially packaged foods, commercially fried food such as french fries from some fast food chains, other packaged snacks such as microwaveable popcorn as well as in vegetable shortening and hard stick margarine.

Good fats in the winter time can help insulate the body and boost immunity.

Butter, along with unrefined virgin coconut oil, is a medium chain fatty acid, compared to long chain fatty acids such as corn, soy, safflower, canola and margarine.

So, what’s the difference? The longer the chain, the harder it is to break down the fat into energy.

Also, because butter is a shorter chain, it can withstand heat better, making it the best oil to cook with. Long chain fatty acids break down and oxidize quickly when exposed to heat.  Coconut oil, specifically, has a secret weapon called lauric acid, which is a rare and natural antimicrobial fatty acid. Studies have shown that the lauric acid in coconut oil may: Protect you from viruses, help lower cholesterol, kill or disable viruses, bacteria or pathogens, boost immunity, increase absorption of Vitamins A, D, E and K, provide easily available energy for the body,

support cognitive function in Alzheimer’s, support natural weight loss,

So what can we do?

Avoid using cooking oils that are high in saturated fats and/or trans fats such as  palm oil or vegetable shortening. Instead, use oils that are low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as canola oil, olive oil..

Minimize using commercially packaged foods which are high in trans fats. Always read labels to look for trans-fat free alternatives.

As saturated fats are found in animals products, use lower-fat version dairy such as 1% or skim milk instead of whole milk. Trim visible fats and skins from meat products.

So remember to increase your intake of these good fats in the winter time to help insulate the body, rebuild the liver, and boost immunity!