Not everyone realizes there’s a distinction between fats that are good for us and fats that are not. In fact, some fats are essential to our diets and we can’t live without them. The word “fat” has a negative connotation, especially when well marketed products influence us to buy “diet,” “non-fat,” “light”/”lite,” or “low fat” foods. The truth is, these “diet” foods aren’t any better for us, and compensate with processed sugar to still taste okay. Sugar and processed foods, not so much fat, is the real problem with our diets.
To break it down, there are four different types of fat. Two of these types are “good fats” and the other “bad fats.”
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are good for us. They benefit the heart, cholesterol, and overall health.
Saturated fats and trans fats are bad for us. They increase the likelihood of disease and high cholesterol.
Beneficial fats are found in the following foods:
-nuts (almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, peanuts)
-oils (olive oil, canola, sunflower, peanut, sesame oil)
-oils (soybean, corn, safflower)
-sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
-fatty fishes (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines, trout)
-chicken with the skin
-fatty cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork)
-whole fat dairy products (cream, milk)
*A note about saturated fat- there has been controversy surrounding the argument that all saturated fat is bad for our health. It’s true that substituting saturated fats for polyunsaturated fats is much healthier. Use olive oil instead of butter, for example, but do not replace your saturated fats with processed food, like a muffin or bagel in the morning instead of bacon. Just don’t eat bacon all the time.
There are also newer studies that argue whole fat dairy products may actually keep us lean and decrease the chances of obesity. One possibility is that whole fat dairy products keep us fuller longer, thus lessening the amount we consume. That doesn’t mean go out and eat tons of whole fat dairy, especially for those of us who already have high cholesterol levels. (Source: NPR: The Full Fat Paradox)
-packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips, cookies)
-commercially baked pastries (doughnuts, cookies, cakes, pizza dough)