It used to be that all types of dietary fat got a bad rap. Now, countless news stories are touting the benefits of fat. So, what’s right about dietary fat? For years, fat was a three-letter word. The effect of different fats on health varies. And, some fats have shown to have positive health benefits. A nutritious eating plan doesn't mean cutting out all fat, just focusing on healthier varieties. Not sure how to get started? Begin by making small changes. It is essential to understand which fats are most vigorous so that you can make the best choices. Some fats are essential for good health, but do you know that all fats are not alike? Other fats can have other adverse effects on heart health or raise blood cholesterol levels. Overeating fat of all kinds can add excess calories and lead to weight gain. Let us differentiate “good” (heart-healthy) fats from the “bad” (unhealthy) fats. What are the different types of fats? There are four main types of fats: Monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats, trans fats.
HEART HEALTHY (“GOOD”) FATS—the fats in this category are unsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats lower (“bad”) LDL cholesterol (used in place of saturated fat). Foods rich in these unsaturated “good” fats are listed below.
Foods that Contain Heart-Healthy Monounsaturated Fats
- Vegetable oils: canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil
- Nuts: almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios
- Avocado, peanut butter and almond butter
Foods that Contain Heart-Healthy Polyunsaturated Fats (called Omega-6 Fatty Acids)
- Seeds, including flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
- Walnuts, fish, including salmon, anchovies, mackerel, trout and tuna
- Vegetable oils: corn oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil
- Soy “nuts” (roasted soybeans), soy nut butter and tofu
- Choosing healthy fats can: aid more youthful blood cholesterol levels. lower other cardiovascular (heart) risk factors, add flavour to food.
UNHEALTHY (“BAD”) FATS—Fats with adverse health effects are saturated fats and trans fats. Both trans fats and saturated fats can raise LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol. The foods listed below contain these unhealthy fats and should be eaten or avoided sparingly.
- Fatty cuts of pork and lamb
- Poultry skin, chicken wings, dark meat chicken
- High-fat dairy products: butter, cheese, whole milk, cream, 2% reduced-fat milk, sour cream, cream cheese, ice cream
- Tropical oils: palm oil, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, cocoa butter
Trans fatty acids (or “trans fats”)
- Stick margarine and some tub margarine
- Vegetable shortening (e.g. original Crisco)
- Fried foods: french fries, doughnuts, other deep-fried fast food items
- Commercially prepared foods containing partially hydrogenated oils: cookies, crackers, cakes, pastries, microwave popcorn and other snack foods.
- The type of fat you eat plays an essential role in your heart health.
- Choose healthy fat options, which include nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking.
- Discover easy swaps and tips to increase your intake of healthy fats.
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