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Good and Bad Fats: Know What They Are

What do you think of when you hear “fat”? Few people will think of something beneficial or positive, but fat is necessary for survival and surrounds every cell in your body.


An inadequate supply of “good” fats will weaken cell membranes. Some dietary fats are very valuable for the body, while others are hazardous.


Monounsaturated Fats


         ● These fats reduce body-wide inflammation (which can lead to heart disease and cancer). These fats can lower the

           risk of heart disease and cancer.


         ● Foods richest in monounsaturated fats include almonds, avocados, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, olives

          (and the oil), peanuts, pecans, pistachios and sesame seeds.


Polyunsaturated Fats

         ● These are the EFAs: essential fatty acids, called so because the body cannot make them; they must be obtained from food or supplements.

         ● EFAs reduce inflammation and assist in healing.

         ● Omega-3s are a type of EFA, and there are several kinds of omega-3s. More commonly known omega-3s are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA

           (eicosapentaenoic acid), found in fish oil supplements, fish like salmon, and algae.

         ● GLA, gamma-linoleic acid, is an omega-3, found in seeds (hemp, evening primrose and borage oils) and spirulina.

         ● ALA, alpha-linoleic acid, is an omega-3 found in pumpkin, flax and chia seeds, and walnuts.

         ● Another EFA is the omega-6, of which linoleic acid is the main one, obtained from seeds and grains. Supplementation isn’t necessary because omega-6 is

          prevalent in the typical diet from oils (canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean and corn).

         ● Polyunsaturated fats are found in most plants.


Saturated Fats

These fats are found in animal products, and palm and coconut oil. The saturated fats in the plants are actually beneficial, while the ones from animals, when consumed excessively, are linked to heart disease. Sat fats can lower the good cholesterol, HDL.


Trans Fats

You’ve probably heard of these, and for good reason: They’re poison. They’re produced by the hydrogenation process of polyunsaturated oils.


This process changes the molecular structure, resulting in a toxin that has been linked to thousands of heart attacks in the U.S. every year, not to mention many more cases of heart disease. Trans fats can lead to inflammation and higher LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.


If a product contains “partially hydrogenated” oils of some sort, don’t eat it. If the ingredients just say “hydrogenated,” this can still be partially, so don’t eat that, either. Trans fats also go by the name “shortening.” If you see “interestified fat” in the ingredients, avoid it; this manmade fat is just as bad as trans fats.


How much?

         ● Avoid trans/interestified fats

         ● Limit sat fats (e.g., bacon, sausage, conventional meats, processed meats, dairy, whole eggs)

         ● Base your diet on poly- and monounsaturated fats (e.g., whole grains, nuts and seeds, some beans, fish, wild game, grass fed beef, organic poultry)

         ● Don’t forget fruit and vegetables in all of this (ideally organic)


Don’t cook with olive oil because the high heat makes it bad. Instead, eat it raw in salads with vinegar: a 1:1 ratio. Cook with coconut oil.