There’s so much news in the press these days about fat and its relationship to your cholesterol levels that people may think that they should go no fat. That, however, would be a mistake. Fat actually does a lot of good things for your body:
- It helps give your body energy through its high concentration of calories (much more than you get from protein and carbohydrates).
- It gives your body an essential fatty acid called linoleieic acid. This acid gives you healthy skin, a metabolism that functions well, and aids in growth.
- It helps your body absorb vitamins A, D, and K.
Those are the scientific reasons we need fat. But I can’t deny that my taste buds savor food that contains fat and they make me feel fuller for longer. And guess what, it I feel full, I don’t eat.
These are like the worst people in your life. They are the ones that give some food types a bad name. They come from animal products (eggs, dairy and meat). You can also find them in some plant-based oils like coconut and palm oils. It’s easy to identify them because at room temperature they are solid.
Saturated fats really aren’t good for you. They increase the type of cholesterol that can accumulate like scum on the sides of your arterial walls which results in narrower blood vessels and less blood flow. You know this agent as LDL cholesterol. You probably also know that this accumulation increases your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or suffering from heart disease.
You don’t have to keep them out of your diet totally because research has revealed that there are different types of saturated fats and some of them actually don’t influence your cholesterol levels one way or another. Try to keep them to no more than 7 percent of your daily caloric intake.
These are the good people in your life. Unsaturated fats increase your HDL cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol is like a vulture and devour any extra LDL cholesterol that might be in your blood. And, of course, the less LDL cholesterol you have, the lower your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or developing heart disease.
You’ll tend to find unsaturated fats in fish, nuts, soy, avocados and vegetable oils. You’ll recognize them at room temperature because they appear as liquids. One type, monounsaturated fats, does start to morph into a solid form when left in the cold. Think of how an olive looks if you put it in the cold.
Of the two types of unsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, are the preferred type because they lower your LDL cholesterol levels without reducing your HDL levels. The other type, polyunsaturated fats, can lower your LDL levels, but they can also lower your HDL cholesterol levels if you consume too much.
Have your fat and health, too.
Linda is a certified dietician and life coach. After 5 years of gaining experience with the NHS community, Linda now works on a freelance basis providing nutrition and dietary advice to clients across the UK. She strives to promote positive, practical messages about food and health to treat nutrition related health problems.
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