An image of bad and good fats: Olive oil in a bottle, and butter and coconut oil on little plates. There are flower pots with plants in the background.

Are There Actually Any Good Fats?

AN image og good fat - olive oil

 

Good Fats – Do They Exist?

 

The scapegoat of the food world is fats. Nobody seems to believe that good fats exist. Now, shelves are full of foods that boast that they are low fat or non-fat. However, if something is non-fat, to enhance the taste, it will be full of sugar- which is bad for you. Unfortunately, fat is often lumped in with sugar, as they are both found in unhealthy foods like chips and ice cream. However, salmon and Greek yogurt also contain fats. So, are these foods healthy in spite of their fat content, or because of them? 

If you look past the lens of fad diets, you can see that some fats are bad for you, but some are good. Trans, saturated, and unsaturated fats are the three main kinds of fats:

Trans Fats 

  • Found in chips, ice cream, biscuits, and cakes 
  • Artificial
  • Have no health benefits 
  • Raise your cholesterol levels by affecting LDL levels in your body. If there are enough LDL particles in your body, they stick to the walls of your arteries. This clogs your arteries and increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes  
  • Solid at room temperature 
  • Finally, they are bad for you and should be avoided.

Saturated Fats 

  • Found in red meat and dairy 
  • Can raise your cholesterol
  • An analysis of 21 studies said there wasn’t enough proof to say that these fats increase your risk of heart disease
  • However, although these fats may not increase your risk of heart disease, the fact that they can raise your cholesterol is reason enough to limit them. Thus, the American Heart Association recommends only 5% or 6% of your calories should come from these fats  
  • Solid at room temperature.

Unsaturated Fats 

  • There are two kinds of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats
  • The Seven Countries Study showed that mono fats are good for you. This is because they lower your risk of heart disease
  • Mono fats are found in oils. 
  • Poly fats are essential to your body for the absorption of fats. However, your body can’t make them, so you have to eat them. 
  • Two types of poly fats are omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats. Omega-3 fats are found in fatty fish and omega-6 fats – in vegetable oils
  • Unsaturated fats lower your cholesterol levels, which reduces your risk of heart disease 
  • Finally, they are liquid at room temperature.

 

So, the answer to the question of whether fats are good for you or not is: it depends. Unsaturated fats are good for you. However, trans fats are bad for you. Finally, you should limit your intake of saturated fats. Also, although your body needs fats to function, fat is much more calorie dense than carbohydrates or proteins. So if you’re watching your waistline, it’s best to enjoy even the good fats in moderation. However, the days of demonizing all fats should be over – so avoid the non-fat products next time you go to the supermarket.  

Please check out my recipe in which I used salmon, a source of healthy fats!

 

 

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