Fats, the Good and the Bad

Too much of any type of fat can be bad for your health. There are two main types of fat; saturated and unsaturated. One is said to be more beneficial for your health when eaten in moderation.

The difference between the two fats is in their chemical structure. Saturated fats do not have double bonds between carbon atoms. These fats are saturated with hydrogen and remain solid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats, known as “healthy fats”, contain double bonds and are liquid at room temperature.

Let’s make this simpler to understand. When cooking at high temperatures, it is better to cook with saturated fats. This doesn’t mean I am telling you to eat more saturated fats. Returning to the double bonds, a saturated fat cannot be altered into a different chemical makeup at high temperatures. An unsaturated fat, cooked at high temperatures breaks down the chemical bonds to become a saturated fat. So when you are trying to cook healthier meals using olive oil using a heat that is too high, you are changing that olive oil into a saturated fat, probably one that is worse for you than if you had just used the butter. To keep it on healthy side and consume more unsaturated fat, cook at a low to medium low heat to ensure that those double bonds stay intact. Again, understand, I am not recommending frying anything.

Saturated and unsaturated fats have contrasting effects on cholesterol levels in the body. So, reduced fat and low fat foods are not necessarily healthier for you. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL) are the two types of cholesterol. High levels of LDL’s are bad for your health as a whole and a common cause of heart disease. HDL’s travel through the blood stream removing harmful cholesterol. This type of cholesterol is known to reduce the risk of heart disease rather than promote. Many try to completely remove fats from their diet unaware that they are not all bad for your health. Without proper knowledge of the types of fats one can not effectively manage their diet and improve their health.

Detected mostly in processed foods and animal products, saturated fats raise your LDL cholesterol and add to heart disease. Foods with elevated saturated fat are commonly high in dietary cholesterol, also contributing to the risk of heart disease.

Unsaturated fats are located in plant products such as nuts, olives, fish, and vegetable oils. Unsaturated fats are divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. The contrast between the two is that monounsaturated fats contain only one double bond while polyunsaturated fats consist of two or more. Both have been found to benefit your health when consumed in moderation. These healthy fats are not only known to lower LDL or bad cholesterol but to raise the good cholesterol, HDL as well.

Taking in the proper amounts of fat in order to decrease your LDL and increase your HDL is very important. Realizing the difference between “good” and “bad” fats will enable you to lower your risk for heart disease as well as other common diseases.

Fat’s are essential to your body functions. Even a small amount of the saturated fats serve the body. Your diet should consist of 20% fat on a daily basis. Just be sure that the majority of this fat is coming from the unsaturated side. This is very important, even with weight loss. No, you cannot lose weight without fat. Look it up.

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