The Good Bad & Ugly (Part 2)

Good Fat vs Bad Fat

I wrote a post not so long ago about Good FOODS vs Bad FOODS – which I named ‘ The Good, Bad and The Ugly’ – Today I’m back with another article that addresses more ‘good’ ‘bad’ and down right ‘ugly’ corners of nutrition….

It is a common misconception that all fats of any kind are bad for you, and given the fact that low-fat products have been shoved into our attention for the last 20 years, it’s no wonder.

Another factor as to why people believe they shouldn’t be eating fats comes from the many doctors and nutritionists that have been preaching over the years that a low-fat diet is crucial for avoiding health issues, keeping cholesterol low, and losing weight.

I am here to put that to bed and tell you, right now, that we are not only allowed to eat fats, but that it is highly encouraged.

However, as the title suggests there are two different kinds of fats. Those that are good, and those that are bad.

The good ones actually play a massive part in many areas such as mental state, our mood, lowering fatigue and controlling weight, and in the simplest terms, we want about 80-90% percentage of our daily intake of fats (between 20-35% of your daily calories should come from fats) to be the good kind because of the health benefits they give.

So to help you out, below I have detailed what classifies as both good and bad fats, and where we can actually find them.

Good Fats

The fats that we actually want to be eating are known as unsaturated fats. Split into three main types (shown below), they help our bodies in a whole manner of different ways, and as said above, they play a vital role in keeping your mind and body in tip top shape.

Let’s have a look at the different types of good fats.

Monounsaturated Fats

It is this type of fat that you hear touted quite a lot on TV, usually in adverts for butter replacing spreads.

Predominantly found in olive oil, monounsaturated fats are said to be good for the heart as they do not increase your cholesterol levels, unless of course they are in the form of oleic acid, in which case they will actually lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (that’s the bad kind) while not affecting the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) level (that’s the good kind).

Where to find:

  • Olive oil
  • Nuts (pecans, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews)
  • Canola oil
  • Avocados
  • Sesame oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Sunflower oil

 

Polyunsaturated Fats

While some monounsaturated fats lower just the bad cholesterol (LDL), polyunsaturated fats actually lower both LDL and HDL (for this reason it is recommended that you consume about a third of this type of fat compared to your monounsaturated fat intake).

There is also a specific type of polyunsaturated fat found in some dairy and meat foods, known as conjugated linoleic acid that has some very compelling health benefits.

These include inhibiting the production of the type of cells found in prostate-cancer, as well as reducing the risk of diabetes by preventing the thickening of your arteries (atherosclerosis).

Where to find:

  • Corn oil
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Soybean oil
  • Tofu
  • Safflower oil
  • Pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds.
  • Soymilk

Essential Fatty Acids

These are arguably the most important of all the good fats, simply because of the sheer range of health benefits they provide.

The fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3 are known as essential because they are fats that our bodies can’t produce themselves, so it is ‘essential’ that you get them from your food.

It is essential we get them because they help our bodies in many ways, such as lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of obesity, hindering the growth of viruses and cancer cells and helping prevent blood clotting, to name just a few.

A deficiency in essential fatty acids will also exacerbate the symptoms of a whole manner of different medical conditions too lengthy to include in this article.

Where to find:

Omega-6

  • Oily fish
  • Selected nuts
  • Flaxseed

Omega-3

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Hemp seed
  • Vegetable oils

 

Bad Fats

This is where the majority of what you’ve heard about fats becomes true, and for many of the reasons that nutritionists have been preaching, their consumption should be kept to a minimum.

Let’s dive straight into the two different types of bad fats.

Saturated Fats

Probably the most well-known of all the fats, saturated fats are mainly responsible for the common health issue, high cholesterol. They raise the LDL cholesterol level which can in turn clog arteries and increase the chance of heart disease, and even stroke.

What to avoid:

  • Large quantities of high-fat cuts of meat (pork, beef and lamb)
  • Full-fat dairy foods
  • Chicken skin
  • Lard
  • Ice cream
  • Palm and coconut oil

Trans Fats

These fats are actually man-made, processed fats created through the process of hydrogenation, in which vegetable oil is heated and combined with hydrogen gas for the use of frying processed food.

Trans fats take on a similar role to saturated fats, and they too raise LDL cholesterol, while lowering HDL cholesterol. This ultimately leads to many of the same health issues caused by saturated fats.

To be brutally honest, no amount of trans fats is considered healthy, and they should be avoided because of the large array of issues they cause.

What to avoid (to name just a few):

  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Muffins
  • Doughnuts
  • Fried chips
  • Crisps
  • Pancake mix
  • Fried Chicken
  • Biscuits
  • Margarine

 

If all of the above is new to you, and watching what you eat is not something you’ve done before, then I would imagine you have probably been hit quite hard here, simply because what the above is saying is that you really shouldn’t be eating all those lovely tasting snacks and treats you’ve been eating for years.

But if your personal health is something you value, then cutting down on bad fats and increasing your intake of good ones should be something you try and implement right away.

It’s not easy, but I can tell you from personal experience that given enough time and dedication, the cravings do go away and things do get easier.

Not only that, but you’ll be feeling a whole lot better for it too!

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