Not all fats are bad. Let that sink in for a minute, and then read it again. Not all fats are bad. Fats are a natural part of our physiology and we need them to maintain a normal metabolism. However, there are fats that are good for our bodies, and fats that are not. Fats in general get a bad rap because we consume way to many of the bad fats, which attribute to weight gain, heart problems, clogged arteries and other horrible things of the like. Good fats do precisely the opposite.
There four main types of fats.
- monounsaturated fats
- polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3s)
- trans fats
- saturated fats
The BAD Fats
The one truly bad fat out of the four main types are trans fats. Natural trans fats can be found in meats and dairy products, but it is the ARTIFICIAL trans fats that cause health problems for millions of people every year. So where do you find artificial trans fans? Well, look at the products that are “artificially” made.
- Cookies, baked sweets, pastries
- Fried fast food
- packaged snacks and microwaveable food
- margarine and vegetable shortening
The problem is, we looooove these foods. Come on, I’m sitting here talking about how bad these things are for and I would like nothing more than to devour a box cream pies right now! So no surprise we get way way way too many artificial trans fats than one should ever have. The good news is, if you can cut down on the synthesized foods, you can substitute those bad fats for the good ones.
The HEALTHY Fats
Healthy fats are a critical part of your body’s metabolism and replacing the bad fats with these will have a multiplied impact on your health. We will break down good sources for each of these types of fats.
Monounsaturated Fats (MUFAs)
From a chemical standpoint, monounsaturated fats are simply fat molecules that have one unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule, this is also called a double bond. Oils that contain monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled. Good sources of MUFAs include:
- Olive oil
- Nuts, such as almonds, cashews, pecans and macadamias
- Canola oil
- Nut butters
- Peanut oil
Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFAs)
This is wear Omega-3 and Omega-6 enter the picture. We are always being told we need to get our fair share of Omega-3’s to be healthy, but what exactly is it? Well, fatty acid has more than one (poly) double bond in the carbon chain. They’re unsaturated because they’re missing out on what saturated fatty acid has — hydrogen atoms. So aside from just supplements, here is where you will find the coveted “Omegas”!
If you are looking for a good Omega 3 supplement, you may find our previous article on The 10 Best Omega 3 Supplements helpful.
- Salmon (especially wild-caught king and sockeye)
- Pole and line-caught tuna
- Lake trout
- Algae such as seaweed (high in EPA and DHA)
- Fish oil or algae supplements
- Brussels Sprouts
Saturated fats are simply fat molecules that have no double bonds between carbon molecules because they are saturated with hydrogen molecules. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature.
Are saturated fats actually a “healthy fat”? Well, the debate rages on. They are certainly healthier than the trans fat you get from synthesized foods like Twinkies and donuts, but they aren’t exactly known to be on the same level as Omega-3s. So, best advice is, if the choice comes down to trans fats or saturated fats, go with the latter. Just be careful not to overload on these, because it can be very easily done without even noticing.
- fatty beef
- poultry with skin
- beef fat
- lard and cream
- other dairy products made from whole or reduced-fat (2 percent) milk
Before you go making ANY changes to your diet, talk with your doctor about what you should be consuming and a diet that is right for you. Consider substituting any unhealthy fats you currently are getting a surplus of for others that can be more beneficial for your body. Use this list as a guide to discuss a solid plan of action with your doctor.