Good And Bad Fats: What’s The Truth And What Can You Do?

by Jul 10, 2022Food & Nutrition0 comments

I’ve already covered good vs. bad fats. But, I wanted to cover it in more detail. That’s what takes us to good and bad fats. As I’ve explained, not all fats are bad. In fact, we need them to function properly.

Our bodies need fat cells to store energy and more. So, we always need some fat available in our bodies. So, the key lies in knowing what’s good and what you need to avoid.

That translates directly into your diet. You must identify good fat sources and stick to them. They can even help you maintain a healthy weight,

So, what’s the truth?

The bad side of good and bad fats: The bad

There are many types of fat. We can even break them down into five different groups. From there, we can separate good and bad fats. Bad fats are saturated and trans fats.

They’ve been identified as being harmful to our health. We can identify them because they’re solid at room temperatures. As such, butter and margarine are the most common sources of these fats.

You should outright avoid trans fats. On the other hand, saturated fats are usually fine as long as we use them sparingly.

You shouldn’t overdo it with saturated fats

Saturated fats tend to come from animals. As such, we can find them in fatty meats and dairy. That includes fatty beef cuts, lamb, poultry skin, high-fat dairy, and tropical oils.

Eating too many saturated fats increases bad cholesterol levels in the blood. As such, it translates into an increased risk of heart disease. But, saturated fat isn’t as bad as many believe.

Still, they’re far from ideal. It’s better to replace them with polyunsaturated fats. But, the risk reduction is relatively low.

Again, it’s mostly a matter of keeping them under control.

Always avoid trans fats if possible

Trans fatty acids are in foods with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. They’re different from trans fats. You shouldn’t use them sparingly. It’s best for you to avoid them.

You can find them in fried foods, margarine, baked goods, and vegetable shortening. They also raise bad cholesterol levels. But, they also suppress good cholesterol.

Moreover, doctors have linked trans fats to higher body inflammation. That can trigger other harmful effects, like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

You can find kinds of margarine with non-hydrogenated ingredients to avoid trans fats. But, make sure you’re careful with food labels. Less than 0.5 grams may still be labeled as “no trans fats.”

What foods should you avoid when considering good and bad fats?

Naturally, some foods have more bad fats than others. Avoiding saturated and trans fats in foods is vital for your health. And, that often means giving up “comfort” foods that you might enjoy.

Unfortunately, I understand how difficult it may be. Giving up fried foods, butter, and whipped cream is a challenge. But, we must do it to keep a healthy lifestyle.

Thankfully, it’s easy to identify where saturated and trans fats come from. WebMD has a fantastic list of foods you should avoid.

Fatty meat

Fatty meats are the most common source of saturated fats for many people. Sadly, they’re also some of the most common foods when we want to wind down. Fatty meats are delicious. There’s no way around it.

But, that isn’t enough to keep you from minimizing its consumption.

A 4-ounce serving of lean ground beef can contain 5 grams of saturated fat. That might sound like little. Yet, it’s 23% of the recommended daily intake.

Poultry skin

Everyone loves chicken skin. It’s the main attraction of fried chicken, after all. But, it’s also full of saturated fats. That’s curious, especially considering that poultry is overall low in saturated fats.

One ounce of chicken skin can contain 2.26 grams of saturated fats. So, it’s best if you skip the skin. You can still reap all the benefits of its meat and low-fat content.

Heavy cream

Heavy cream is delicious. We love it in almost any presentation. But, it’s also made from fat and liquids from unhomogenized milk. That is when it’s allowed to rest.

As such, it’s almost exclusively fat. And, it’s also almost exclusively saturated fat. In fact, the liquid is one-quarter saturated fat. As such, 100 grams servings may contain over 23 grams of saturated fats.

Butter

Butter is fantastic. We can use it to cook or to add flavor to our dishes. But, it follows a very similar story to heavy cream. Its contents come from the fats in heavy cream.

As such, it’s also quite high in saturated fats. A tablespoon of butter is about 14 grams. But, over half of that is pure saturated fats. Thus, it’s best if you try and find alternatives to butter.

Soft cheese

Cheese is kind of complex. It can be very varied. And, each type of cheese has different levels of fat. But, one of them rises above the rest in saturated fat content.

Soft cheeses tend to have a higher saturated fat content. Particularly, brie and Camembert cheese can contain over 17 grams of saturated fat. That’s for every 100-gram serving.

Bacon

Finally, bacon is almost synonymous with fat. There’s no way around it. And, it’s also one of the reasons we love it so much. Sadly, it’s also the reason why it’s quite unhealthy.

It’s almost the same as high-fat cuts of beef. It’s a huge source of saturated fats. Every 100 grams of bacon contains between 12 and 13 grams of saturated fats. So, it’s best to use it sparingly.

The good side of good and bad fats: The good

With that out of the way, not all fats contribute to heart disease risk. That’s where the difference between good and bad fats comes into play. In fact, eating good fats can protect your body. They lower heart disease risk by improving cholesterol levels.

That said, you still need to be careful with your weight. Good fats are still high in calories. And, most of them can raise your triglyceride levels. So, make sure to eat them in moderation.

Polyunsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats mainly come from vegetable oils at room temperature. You can find them in liquid form on grocer’s shelves. Typically, they come from oils, like safflower, corn, and soybean.

Moreover, soft-tub margarine and mayonnaise contain polyunsaturated fats. You can use them, along with salad dressings, to substitute saturated fats. They can help you with cooking, adding flavor, and more. Thus, they’re fantastic replacements.

Monounsaturated fats

Monounsaturated fats are vegetable oils as well. Like polyunsaturated fats, they also come in vegetable oils. Likewise, they also remain liquid at room temperature. Some examples include olive, canola, and peanut oils. Avocados are also great sources.

Again, they make up a fantastic replacement for saturated and trans fats. You can use them for flavor and cooking, making them a great alternative to margarine and butter.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Finally, we have omega-3 fatty acids. Unlike unsaturated fats, they come from marine sources. And, they actually lower your triglyceride levels and cholesterol. So, they’re unique among other types of fat.

They also aid against blood clotting. You can get them from fatty fish. That includes salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardine, and sea bass. So, try to eat fish at least a couple of times each week. You can also find omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts, canola oil, and soy products.

What foods should you seek when considering good and bad fats?

Dietary fat used to be avoided and warned against. Now, we understand more about its benefits, even for heart health. So, adding good fats is ideal while considering good and bad fats.

Still, saturated fats should be avoided. The same goes for trans fats. But, you can find fatty foods with lots of nutrition. Moreover, they’re usually less processed than their fat-free counterparts.

Avocado

Avocados are unique among fruits because they don’t contain primarily carbs. Instead, they pack a fat punch. They’re actually 80% fat, surpassing countless animal foods.

But, they’re also rich in potassium. They can provide 15% of the daily value for each 150-gram serving. They also have plenty of antioxidants. Avocados can act favorably on your cholesterol profile.

Cheese

Cheese has a complex reputation. Yet, it’s quite nutritious in the right amounts. Firstly, it’s packed with calcium. It also contains phosphorus, vitamin B12, and selenium.

Of course, it’s also rich in protein. An ounce of cheese contains 6 grams of protein. So, it’s almost the same as a glass of milk. And, it doesn’t increase heart disease risk.

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is more nutritious than other presentations. And, it’s disguised as a tasty treat. It’s quite high in fat, as it accounts for 95% of its calories.

Moreover, dark chocolate is rich in fiber and other nutrients. For instance, you can get iron and magnesium. Moreover, it’s full of antioxidants, like resveratrol and epicatechin. Just make sure you’re at least 70% cocoa dark chocolate.

Whole eggs

Whole eggs are a curious case. They were considered unhealthy because of their yolk’s cholesterol and fat content. But, new studies have changed this overview.

Its cholesterol doesn’t impact your cholesterol profile negatively. And, eggs are filled with nutrients, like vitamins and minerals. They’re also high in protein, which helps you feel fuller and lowers cravings.

Fatty fish

Fatty fish is among the most nutritious animal protein options in the world. That includes salmon, sardines, trout, and herring. They’re full of omega-3 fatty acids and protein.

Regularly eating fish can help you improve your cognitive function. And, it helps regulate blood sugar and lower heart disease risk. Fish oil supplements are a great source if you don’t enjoy eating fish.

Nuts

Nuts are also amazingly healthy. They contain plenty of fiber and healthy fats. And, they’re decent plant sources of protein.

They also contain vitamin E and magnesium. The latter is particularly useful, as many don’t get enough of it. Consuming nuts helps you remain healthier and lower your risk of several diseases. For instance, obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes risks are lower.

Chia seeds

We rarely consider chia seeds as fatty food. But, one ounce of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fat. And, most of its carbs come from fiber. And, most calories come from fat.

Even better, most of these fats are omega-3 fatty acids, called alpha-linolenic acid. Moreover, chia seeds lower blood pressure and inflammation. And, they’re quite nutritious.

Extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is ideal for cooking and adding flavor. It’s packed with healthy fats, specifically oleic acid. This fatty acid has amazing anti-inflammatory properties.

It’s also the reason why it’s vital in the Mediterranean diet. This diet has shown multiple health benefits related to blood sugar and heart health. Plus, it’s fantastically versatile for cooking.

Full-fat yogurt

Finally, full-fat yogurt can have plenty of nutrients. It contains many of the other nutrients we’ve seen in this list. But, it’s also packed with healthy probiotics that we can all use.

Yogurt improves digestive health, weight management, and heart disease risk. And, it doesn’t have any negative health effects. Just make sure you’re using full-fat or whole milk products.

The holistic takeaway

good and bad fats - salami and wine on a table

Good and bad fats are a tricky subject. They thread the line between being bad for you and a must for your health. So, making the right choice is a must for everyone.

Fitness experts will tell you that you need healthy fats to maintain proper weight. And, that’s easily true.

So, what can you do about it?

The Fat Burning Kitchen is the best nutrition guide to managing your fat. It’s a complete program that breaks down common food misconceptions. It also goes beyond targeting calories.

To learn how it works, do check out my official review!

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