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A Guide to Healthy Fats

Choosing healthy fats is important because they play a vital role in your body’s ability to function properly. While all fats have the same caloric value, not all fats are healthy and some are downright killers. Learn which fats are best in this guide to healthy fats.

*How Healthy Is Fat

Only in one area are all fats are created equal; they all have the same caloric value of 9 calories per gram and that’s high when compared to carbohydrates and protein which have only about 4 calories per gram.

Your body needs some fat to burn calories, as a storehouse and in many other ways but it needs more proteins and carbohydrates. Limiting your intake of any fat will reduce your weight, just be sure you limit the bad fats first, because the good fats, eaten in moderation, will reduce your cholesterol.

*Types of Dietary Fat

There are four categories of fats in our diets and each has certain characteristics that place them in either the healthy or unhealthy group. All foods contain several types of fat but the healthiest foods have higher percentages of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and little or none of the saturated or hydrogenated fats.

1) Hydrogenated or Trans-Fats

Hydrogenated or Trans-fats are always solid at room temperature and have a high melting point. These fats are found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, processed foods and commercially baked breads, snacks and fried foods.

Not only do trans-fats raise your LDL (bad cholesterol), they lower your HDL (good cholesterol), which is a contributing factor of heart disease. These altered fats that are seldom found in natural foods (and then in minute amounts) also increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

2) Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are always solid at room temperature. These fats are found in fatty cuts of beef, pork and lamb, skin-on poultry, eggs, whole milk products such as butter and cheese, coconut and coconut oil, palm oil, and bottom feeding seafood such as catfish, lobster, shrimp and clams.

There is no benefit to the body found in foods with high levels of saturated fats that cannot be found in a healthier choice. Eating these foods, occasionally and in very small amounts, is okay as long as you get exercise to help lower the bad cholesterol to which they contribute.

3) Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats are considered healthy too and are always liquid. These fats are found in corn oil, flaxseed oil, sunflower seeds, walnuts and fish that contain Omega-3 fatty acids such as mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna.

Because the body cannot produce some of the essential fats it needs such as Omega 6 and Omega 3, both of which play a vital role in our brain function, we must get them from the foods we eat such as those that contain polyunsaturated fats. These fats also help to lower the LDL cholesterol and contribute to the growth of the body.

4) Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats are always liquid, but are cloudy when cold. These are found in oils we use as salad dressings and to cook with, like canola oil, sesame oil and olive oil, as well as in peanut butter, avocados, almonds, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, lamb.

Monounsaturated fats, high in vitamin E and the antioxidant vitamins, are the healthiest of the fats and are beneficial if eaten in moderation. They actually help to lower cholesterol and therefore the risk of heart attack as well as providing nutrients that develop and maintain the body’s cells.

Understanding and following this guide to healthy fats will improve your health in a multitude of ways; you’ll lose weight, improve heart-health, lower your cholesterol, improve cognitive skills with the increase of the Omega fats and enjoy healthier hair and clearer skin. So, healthy fat is not the oxymoron it first appears to be.