What are Good Fats?
I’m sure you have heard of “good” fats and “bad” fats. This topic has been very confusing to me over the years – how can some fat be good and some fat be bad?
Due to the new healthy diet plan (more like a healthy lifestyle) I have had to learn a bit about fats.
Here is what I have learned:
- Not all fats are created equal!
- Good fats can make you feel better!
- Bad fats can make your feel depressed…
- Fats do not make you fat!
- Some fats (good ones) are needed for your body to function well
- Avoid trans fats
What are good fats – EMBRACE
These are the fats that SHOULD be a regular part of your healthy diet plan:
- Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fats are awesome for your heart! They reduce the clotting of blood inside the arteries, are anti-inflammatory, keep cholesterol from becoming damaged and help prevent irregular heart rhythms.
Not only that, omega-3 has also been found to decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis and even a few types of cancer!
The question you should be asking yourself: “Where can I get omega-3 fats?”
The best source of omega-3 is fish and fish oil and some plant foods. You want to make sure that you are getting it from a variety of sources. For example, flax seed has a type of omega-3 called ALA (alpha linolenic acid). On the other hand the omega-3 fats found in fish oil or cod liver oil or krill oil are called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). It appears that the DHA and EPA contribute to most of the benefits of omega-3.
Now don’t stop taking the flaxseed! The ALA in flaxseed converts to EPA in your body and can provide the results that EPA offers. However, only a small fraction makes the exchange.
What does this mean? You have to take whole bunches of flaxseeds to equal the benefit of a much smaller amount of fish oil.
- Monounsaturated Fats
What are good fats? One of my favorite forms of “good” fats are the monounsaturated fats! There is a universal agreement that these types of fats are very good for your health and should be a part of any healthy diet plan.The monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, seeds, nuts and olive oil. These
types of fats can raise your good cholesterol (HDL levels) and not hurt you total cholesterol.
The American Heart Association states:
“Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells. Monounsaturated fats are also typically high in vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin most Americans need more of.”
- Saturated FatsSay what?!?! You mean that things like butter, whole milk, and cheese and coconut oil may actually be good for you?This last category of “good” fats is a highly contested area. On one hand you have the American Heart Association saying that the high blood cholesterol is due to saturated fats. However, other studies have shown that “lipid hypothesis” is not based on good science.
You can read more about this in The Cholesterol Myths, by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD. He explains that the lipid hypothesis was based on data that was not a general population but targeted toward people with a high intake of animal fats and prone to heart disease.
His conclusion: skewed and faulty data! Therefore many experts agree that saturated fats are actually good for you! These fats are required for hormone production, energy, cellular membranes as well as other biological functions.
There are even some doctors that recommend that at least 25 percent of your fat intake be saturated fat!
One study concluded:
- Saturated fats are good for the heart (versus heart disease) – they lower Lp(a)
- Saturated fats build the immune system
- They reduce cancer risk by aiding the communication between cells
- They reduce the risk of diabetes by helping the receptors for insulin work properly
- Saturated fats aid in the function of lungs
- They help with kidneys and hormones
- The nervous system needs saturated fats to work properly.
- Did you know that half the fat in the brain is saturated.
- They help reduce inflammation.
- Saturated fats transport the key fat-soluble vitamins like A, D and K2
GOAL: Work on reducing the bad fat and incorporated healthy fats into your diet every day.