Fat is a type of nutrient, and just like protein and carbohydrates, your body needs some fat for energy, to absorb vitamins, and to protect your heart and brain health. Healthy fats provide energy, support cell growth, protect organs, and keep your body warm. Essential fatty acids are necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K and help with hormone production. For years we’ve been told that eating fat will add inches to your waistline, raise cholesterol, and cause a myriad of health problems. We now know that not all fat is the same.

“Bad” fats are guilty of the unhealthy things all fats have been blamed for—weight gain, clogged arteries, an increased risk of certain diseases, and so forth.

“Good” fats have the opposite effect. In fact, healthy fats play a huge role in helping you manage your moods, stay on top of your mental game, fight fatigue, and even control your weight.

Healthy or “Good” Fats

Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good fats” because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and your overall health. These fats can help to:

💚 Lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

💚 Lower bad LDL cholesterol levels, while increasing good HDL.

💚 Prevent abnormal heart rhythms.

💚 Lower triglycerides associated with heart disease and fight inflammation.

💚 Lower blood pressure.

💚 Prevent atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries).

Adding more of these healthy fats to your diet may also help to make you feel more satisfied after a meal, reducing hunger and thus promoting weight loss.

Monounsaturated fats. This type of fat is found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids instead of saturated fats improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease and may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Good sources include:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polyunsaturated fats. These include omega-3 and omega-6 fats. These are essential fatty acids that the body needs for brain function and cell growth. Our bodies do not make essential fatty acids, so you can only get them from food.

Good sources include:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unhealthy or “Bad” Fats

Trans fat. Small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats can be found in meat and dairy products but it’s artificial trans fats that are considered dangerous. This is the worst type of fat since it not only raises bad LDL cholesterol but also lowers good HDL levels.

Primary sources include:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturated fat. While not as harmful as trans fat, saturated fat can raise bad LDL cholesterol and too much can negatively impact heart health, so it’s best consumed in moderation. While there’s no need to cut out all saturated fat from your diet, most nutrition experts recommend limiting it to 10% of your daily calories.

Primary sources include:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By understanding the difference between good and bad fats and how to include more healthy fat in your diet, you can improve how well you think and feel, boost your energy, and even trim your waistline. A healthy diet can include the foods you love. Just remember to choose foods that provide good fats and balance the amount of calories you eat from all foods with the amount of calories you burn!

 

 

 

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