Fat Facts: The "Good" and "Bad"
Content by: NCES, Inc.
Understanding the difference between “good” and “bad” fats can be difficult...Read More!
Fats provide your body with several important functions, like providing energy, insulating your body, promoting healthy skin and hair and absorbing/transporting fat-soluble vitamins essential for good health.
There are 4 different kinds of fats: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, and trans-fat. Understanding the difference between “good” and “bad” fats can be difficult. This exercise should offer a better understanding of what types of fats are good, those that should be eaten in moderation and those that should be avoided as much as possible. While fats and oils should be used sparingly, do not try to eliminate them completely from the diet.
“Good” Fats. The 2 “good” fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as essential fatty acids that cannot be produced by the body. These “good” fats consist of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. It has been found that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fish such as herring, salmon, mackerel and trout. Three to four 3 ounce servings a week of any of these fish listed above will provide you with enough omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy diet. If not a fish eater, omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in ground flaxseed, walnuts, almonds, canola and olive oils.
“Bad” Fats. The other two forms of fat are saturated and trans-fats. These types of fats are classified as “bad” fats and should be avoided as much as possible in the daily diet. Diets high in saturated and trans-fat have been linked to heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Saturated fat typically comes from animal-based foods such fatty meats, cheese butter, whole milk, coconut and palm oils. Trans -fat is liquid at room temperature, but made solid by a process called hydrogenization. Bakery goods, fried foods, and prepackaged foods are some of the most common forms of trans-fat.
How much fat should you be eating? It is good to keep fat consumption to less than 30% of total calories. For example, on a 2000 calorie diet, the average person would need approximately 65 grams of total fat. This means that 20% of ones fat intake should be from monounsaturated (10%) and polyunsaturated (10%) and 7-10% of fat should come from saturated fats with less than 1% from trans fats.
NOTE: If there is heart disease or a history of a heart attack, encourage speaking with the doctor. It’s important to know that fats can be part of a healthy meal plan, the just need to be used sparingly.
Fats found in fresh products, like vegetables and nuts, are generally healthy fats.
1. Limit fats to <30% of your daily diet, or 65g or less.
2. Seek fats from fresh foods for the most healthy forms.
3. Keep moving! Get modest exercise every day.