July 14, 2024
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Dietary Fats: Good vs. Bad

Do you worry about your waistline when eating fat? How about your cholesterol levels? 

Confused about how much fat to include in your diet?

For decades we have not been told the truth about dietary fats.

Low-fat and non-fat foods have become the norm in America because we have been taught that eating less fat will help us get, or keep, the body that we want. But the reality is, studies have shown that high-fat, low-carb diets lead to more weight loss than low-fat diets.

Many people are just now learning the truth that not all fats are created equal and that fats play a crucial role in maintaining our health!

Our bodies burn fat for energy. In addition, fats from animal and vegetable sources (dietary fat) are the building blocks for cell membranes and many different hormones. When eaten as part of a meal, fats slow down absorption so that we feel full longer. They also act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A, D, E, and K.

Confusion comes from the fact that many unhealthy fats have become a mainstay in our current food supply. Therefore, it is very important to distinguish between healthy and harmful fats. We have been taught that the two harmful fats are Saturated and Trans Fat. However, the truth about saturated fat is a huge controversial topic right now.

Did you know saturated fat really doesn’t raise LDL (bad cholesterol) levels that much?

In fact, saturated fats actually will help raise HDL (good cholesterol), which is associatedEvolve Medical Clinics primary care and urgent care with a reduced risk of heart disease.  But be careful! Diets HIGH in saturated fats and LOW in fruits and vegetables are not healthy and not recommended.

Saturated fats and Trans fats tend to get lumped together as “bad” because they share a similar consistency and shelf life; however, their chemical composition is very different. Although there is evidence that saturated fats may not be bad for you, trans fats are highly toxic and can cause all kinds of health issues.

Trans fat: Occur naturally in some foods but is mainly made from oils through food processing called “partial hydrogenation”. Most processed foods contain Trans fats. These fats can cause inflammation, insulin resistance, and significantly raise the risk of heart disease. They are also a main contributor to obesity.

The Three Types of Healthy Fat

The three types of healthy fat include: Monounsaturated fatty acids, Polyunsaturated fatty acids, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Monounsaturated fatty acids: Found in a variety of foods and have been shown to improve blood cholesterol levels – lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. Research has also shown these fatty acids may benefit insulin levels/blood sugar control that could help with type 2 diabetes.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids: Mostly found in plant-based foods and oils. Research has shown these fatty acids help improve cholesterol levels and may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: One type of polyunsaturated fat is made mainly from omega-3 fatty acids and can be very beneficial for the heart and the brain. It can be found in a variety of fatty fish and some plants. It has also been found to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease.

Tips For Choosing Healthy Dietary Fats

  • Get in the habit of reading labels before buying packaged food
  • Limit foods high in saturated fat and avoid trans fats (think processed/frozen food)
  • Incorporate fish into your diet 1-2 times a week instead of meat/poultry
  • Use olive, avocado, and coconut oil instead of butter-like substances (margarine, vegetable oil spreads, etc.). Avoid canola, safflower, corn, soybean and peanut oil (these oils are full of unstable omega-6 fatty acids and trans fats).

It’s time to let go of any fear you may have about consuming fats! Remember, our bodies NEED them to perform vital functions. That being said, all fats are high in calories (even the good ones!) so try replacing current unhealthy fats in your diet with beneficial ones, rather than consuming both.

5 Healthy Fats Your Body Will Love

  1. Avocados
  • Rich in monounsaturated fats (remember, these raise good levels of cholesterol while lowering the bad)
  • Loaded with vitamin E, folate and protein
  1. Butter and Ghee
  • REAL butter (not margarine, Land O’Lakes, and other butter substitutes) contains fatty acids, which help improve the health of your skin, and supportbetter brain function.
  • Both contain fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants (these help improve digestion and reduce inflammation)
  • High in vitamin K2, which helps keep our bonesstrong!
  1. Coconut oil
  • Rich in medium-chain fatty acids
  • Helps improve brain and memory function
  • Increases good cholesterol and promotes a healthy heart
  • Easy for the body to digest and is used for immediate energy rather than being stored as fat
  • Full of antioxidants that make it an effective anti-inflammatory food
  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Contains high amounts of antioxidants, which help repair damaged cells and reduces the rate of heart disease (again due to the monounsaturated fats)
  • Helps improve memory and is also anti-inflammatory
  • In Italy, they love to drizzle a little bit of olive oil on almost everything they eat to help with digestion!
  1. Omega-3s
  • These are essential because they body is incapable of producing them on its own
  • Omega-3 (fish oil) supplements are great
  • We can also get them through our diet by eating salmon, walnuts, chia and flax seeds, and green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and brussels sprouts

Which unhealthy fats are you going to replace in your diet?!

Leah Canale
Certified Health & Wellness Consultant
Quintessential Health for Evolve Medical Clinics

Follow Leah on Facebook and Instagram!

 **The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is intended for your general knowledge only and is not to be used for treatment of specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.**

If you are interested in learning more about dietary fats or have any other questions, the folks at Evolve are happy to see you. Evolve Medical is located in Annapolis. You can schedule online or call/text 844-322-4222.

If you find these health and wellness updates helpful, follow Evolve Medical on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+.

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