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Good Fats Bad Fats

Everybody probably knows that too much fat in our diets is bad for our health. However, not all fats are created equal. In fact, certain fats are actually good for us in moderate quantities, and required by our body for proper function. Some of the reasons we need some fat in our diet include:

1) Provides a source of energy

2) Helps with hormone production

3) Lowers the risk of heart disease and certain cancers

4) Insulates and cushions the internal organs

5) Can help alleviate symptoms of PMS and Menopause

6) Promotes skin and hair health

7) Regulates blood pressure

8) Helps to improve brain function - especially in children

9) Lowers bad cholesterol levels

10) Helps to transport certain vitamins (those known as fat soluble) through our bloodstream

Since our body needs fat, it's necessary to understand the differences between the various types of fat, so we can make a sound decision regarding which types we want to eat.

Saturated Fats

These fats are contained in foods such as: cheese, lard, cakes, chocolate, pies, pastry, cookies and meat. A diet high in saturated fats has been shown to raise the levels of bad cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and obesity, and a reduction in consumption of this type of fat is advised by most medical experts. However, some alternative medicine practicioners believe that the saturated fat in coconut oil promotes heart health, along with other benefits.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats can be found in sunflower oil, safflower oil, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, and sesame seeds. They're a rich source of Vitamin E and essential fatty acids which we need but which can't be made by our bodies. These fats help to lower bad cholesterol levels, ease symptoms of PMS and aid in motor coordination. On the downside, they may also lower good cholesterol levels. Most people get plenty of the polyunsaturated fats in their diets.

Trans Fat

Trans fat is mainly found in processed foods, and is now required to be listed on the nutrition label. It's in margarine, cookies, cakes, puddings, fried foods, chocolate bars and in many fast foods. Trans fats are the worst type of food for our health. They are saturated fats that have been chemically modified in the food manufacturing process. And not only do they increase the levels of bad cholesterol in the body but they also lower the good cholesterol levels as well. There is also a link between trans fats and various forms of cancer and heart disease. Eliminate trans fats from your diet to whatever level possible.


Monounsaturated Fats

Foods rich in monounsaturated fats include: olive oil, Angola oil, sesame oil, avocados, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, humus, mackerel, salmon and lean meat. Like polyunsaturated fats, it is thought that monounsaturated oils also assist in the lowering of bad cholesterol levels. Additionally, a diet rich in monounsaturated fats have been associated with lower risks of cancer and increased longevity. Emphasize the consumption of monounsaturated fats and decrease or eliminate the others.

So we do need fats for proper healthy functioning of our body. Just choose wisely from the available sources, and don't get too much of a good thing.

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