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Is eating fat bad for me?

Box of veggies

Is eating fat bad for me?

This is a question that many people have, and unfortunately, the answer isn’t as clear as we would like it to be. There are different types of fat, some of which are healthy, and others that have been shown to increase risk of cardiovascular diseases.

So, the answer to this question depends on the type of fat you are consuming.

Unhealthy Fats

Trans Fat

Trans fat is the worst type of fat. It has been shown to increase LDL cholesterol levels (a bad cholesterol), and decrease HDL cholesterol levels (a good cholesterol). Trans fats are also associated with inflammation which can lead to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Trans fats are mainly found in foods with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils such as fried foods, margarine, shortening, baked goods and processed foods.

Saturated Fat

While not as bad as trans fat, saturated fat has also been linked with increased blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and increased risk of heart disease. Saturated fats can be found in fatty meats, high-fat dairy products such as butter, cheese and ice cream, and lard.

Healthy Fats

Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the healthiest of the fats. They tend to be liquid at room temperature and improve blood cholesterol levels while decreasing risk of cardiovascular disease. Some monounsaturated fats include nuts (such as almonds and cashews), olive oil, almond butter, and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats are considered essential because our bodies cannot produce them, so they must be consumed through diet. Polyunsaturated fats also contain omega-3 which is beneficial for heart and brain health, and in many cases can improve cognitive function and mental health. Polyunsaturated fats and
omega-3s can be found in flaxseeds and walnuts, as well as different types of fish such as salmon, herring, and sardines.

Food companies are allowed to claim “no trans fats” or “zero grams of trans fats” on the front of their food labels, even if they contain some hydrogenated oils, so it is important to always read the ingredient list when purchasing food products. Also, replacing trans and saturated fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can improve cholesterol levels and reduce risk of heart disease. Hopefully, this makes it a little bit easier to navigate the very confusing world of good and bad fats.

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