Get your fats straight – What you need to know about good fats and bad fats

Get your fats straight – What you need to know about good fats and bad fats

If you’re confused about eating fats, you’re not alone. For years we’ve been sold fat-free and fat-reduced foods as the healthiest option. Now we’re told fat is good. Eat more fats, just different fats.

So which fats are which? Let’s have a look:

Bad Fat #1: Saturated Fat

Saturated fat is found in animal food sources like meat and dairy. Animal and dairy fats are often added to packaged foods like biscuits, cakes and ice-cream.  

3 reasons saturated fat is bad:

  1. Saturated fat increases LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood
  2. We simply eat too much saturated fat
  3. Saturated fats are often mixed with foods that aren’t good for us (eg. in ice-cream, biscuits and cake, saturated fats are mixed with sugar, artificial colours and flavours)

Bad Fat #2: Trans Fats

Trans fats are a synthetic result of processing some oils, including vegetable oils. Trans fats are found in packaged foods, cakes, biscuits, bakery goods and fried foods.

3 reasons trans fats are bad:

  1. Trans fats increase LDL cholesterol in the blood
  2. Trans fats reduce HDL cholesterol - the ‘good’ cholesterol our bodies need!
  3. Trans fats are found in unhealthy foods and often sold with other unhealthy foods, eg: burgers, chips and soft-drink combos.

Why are bad fats bad?

By raising LDL levels, trans fats and saturated can cause plaque build-up in the arteries. Plaque in the arteries is a major contributor to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Trans fats are doubly bad because they not only raise LDL cholesterol, they reduce HDL cholesterol; the good fat we need in our blood.

Good fat # 1: Monounsaturated Fat

Monounsaturated fats are naturally found in avocados, soybeans, nuts and cooking oils like canola, olive, sesame and peanut oil.

Good Fat # 2: Polyunsaturated Fat (omega 3s, Omega 6s)

Polyunsaturated Omega 3 fats are found in oily fish – salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines. You’ll also find omega 3 in walnuts and linseeds. Polyunsaturated Omega 6s can be found in sesame seeds, flaxseeds, brazil and pine nuts.

7 reasons good fats are actually GREAT!

  1. Unsaturated fats reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and add ‘healthy’ HDL cholesterol to the blood
  2. HDL cholesterol helps remove plaque-creating fats from the blood and arteries
  3. Foods high in good fats often carry other benefits. eg, avocadoes are rich in vitamin E, almonds are full of calcium
  4. Polyunsaturated fats reduce inflammation which improves heart health, allergies, skin conditions and arthritis pain
  5. Polyunsaturated fats like Omega 3 support brain function, mood and memory
  6. Healthy fats are an essential source of energy for thebody

Choosing the right fats:

Eat more:

Walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, safflower, linseed and flaxseed, oily fish, whole soy beans, olive, canola and sesame oils.

Eat less:

Meat, processed meat, cheese, cream, cream cheese, packaged biscuits, cakes, pastries and fried food

Consider a supplement: Lecithin from soybeans is recommended as a natural way to reduce cholesterol. Omega 3 is the most common ‘fat’ supplement recommended for adults and kids alike.