However, times are changing. Studies now show that fat, including saturated fat , isn't the devil it was made out to be 1 , 2. All sorts of healthy foods that happen to contain fat have now returned to the "superfood" scene. The main fatty acid is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. This is also the predominant fatty acid in olive oil, associated with various health benefits 4 , 5.
We're talking both the conveniently canned stuff and the foodss you find at your favorite sushi spot. When purchasing it commercially, look for organic or grass-fed cultured ghee. This might mean Printable bible verses for teens fried chicken with grilled chicken, swapping out some of the red meat you eat with other sources of protein such as fish, chicken, or beans, or using olive oil rather than butter. This includes obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes 3031 The scoop: About half of its fat content is saturated, but it also contains healthy fats and numerous other healthy nutrients—vitamins A, B, and E; calcium; iron; Good fatty foods magnesium; and flavonoids plant-based antioxidants.
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When it comes to healthy-fat foods, you probably know that avocado is one of them.
- However, times are changing.
- What's that, you say?
- Updated Feb 18th, — Written by Craig Clarke.
Why are trans fats bad for you, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats good for you, and saturated fats somewhere in-between? For years, fat was a four-letter word. We were urged to banish it from our diets whenever possible. We switched to low-fat foods. But the shift didn't make us healthier, probably because we cut back on healthy fats as well as harmful ones.
You may wonder isn't fat bad for you, but your body needs some fat from food. It's a major source of energy. It helps you absorb some vitamins and minerals. Fat is needed to build cell membranes, the vital exterior of each cell, and the sheaths surrounding nerves.
It is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation. For long-term health, some fats are better than others. Good fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Bad ones include industrial-made trans fats. Saturated fats fall somewhere in the middle. All fats have a similar chemical structure: a chain of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms.
What makes one fat different from another is the length and shape of the carbon chain and the number of hydrogen atoms connected to the carbon atoms.
Seemingly slight differences in structure translate into crucial differences in form and function. The worst type of dietary fat is the kind known as trans fat. It is a byproduct of a process called hydrogenation that is used to turn healthy oils into solids and to prevent them from becoming rancid. Trans fats have no known health benefits and that there is no safe level of consumption. Therefore, they have been officially banned in the United States. Early in the 20 th century, trans fats were found mainly in solid margarines and vegetable shortening.
As food makers learned new ways to use partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, they began appearing in everything from commercial cookies and pastries to fast-food French fries. Eating foods rich in trans fats increases the amount of harmful LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream and reduces the amount of beneficial HDL cholesterol. Trans fats create inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
They contribute to insulin resistance, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Saturated fats are common in the American diet.
They are solid at room temperature — think cooled bacon grease, but what is saturated fat? Common sources of saturated fat include red meat, whole milk and other whole-milk dairy foods, cheese, coconut oil, and many commercially prepared baked goods and other foods.
The word "saturated" here refers to the number of hydrogen atoms surrounding each carbon atom. The chain of carbon atoms holds as many hydrogen atoms as possible — it's saturated with hydrogens. Is saturated fat bad for you? A handful of recent reports have muddied the link between saturated fat and heart disease.
One meta-analysis of 21 studies said that there was not enough evidence to conclude that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease, but that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat may indeed reduce risk of heart disease. Two other major studies narrowed the prescription slightly, concluding that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fats like vegetable oils or high-fiber carbohydrates is the best bet for reducing the risk of heart disease, but replacing saturated fat with highly processed carbohydrates could do the opposite.
Good fats come mainly from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. They differ from saturated fats by having fewer hydrogen atoms bonded to their carbon chains. Healthy fats are liquid at room temperature, not solid. There are two broad categories of beneficial fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats have a single carbon-to-carbon double bond. The result is that it has two fewer hydrogen atoms than a saturated fat and a bend at the double bond.
This structure keeps monounsaturated fats liquid at room temperature. The discovery that monounsaturated fat could be healthful came from the Seven Countries Study during the s.
It revealed that people in Greece and other parts of the Mediterranean region enjoyed a low rate of heart disease despite a high-fat diet. The main fat in their diet, though, was not the saturated animal fat common in countries with higher rates of heart disease. It was olive oil, which contains mainly monounsaturated fat. This finding produced a surge of interest in olive oil and the "Mediterranean diet," a style of eating regarded as a healthful choice today.
Polyunsaturated fats. When you pour liquid cooking oil into a pan, there's a good chance you're using polyunsaturated fat. Corn oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil are common examples. Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats. That means they're required for normal body functions but your body can't make them.
So you must get them from food. Polyunsaturated fats are used to build cell membranes and the covering of nerves. They are needed for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation. There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.
The numbers refer to the distance between the beginning of the carbon chain and the first double bond. Both types offer health benefits. Eating polyunsaturated fats in place of saturated fats or highly refined carbohydrates reduces harmful LDL cholesterol and improves the cholesterol profile. It also lowers triglycerides. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, and unhydrogenated soybean oil.
Omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent and even treat heart disease and stroke. In addition to reducing blood pressure, raising HDL, and lowering triglycerides, polyunsaturated fats may help prevent lethal heart rhythms from arising. Evidence also suggests they may help reduce the need for corticosteroid medications in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Studies linking omega-3s to a wide range of other health improvements, including reducing risk of dementia, are inconclusive, and some of them have major flaws, according to a systematic review of the evidence by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Omega-6 fatty acids have also been linked to protection against heart disease. Foods rich in linoleic acid and other omega-6 fatty acids include vegetable oils such as safflower, soybean, sunflower, walnut, and corn oils. Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between Avoid the trans fats, limit the saturated fats, and replace with essential polyunsaturated fats Updated: August 13, Published: February, E-mail Address.
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Drink plain coffee instead. In fact, healthy fats, such as polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, are linked to various health benefits. This is a detailed beginner's…. At the same time, the creamers, syrups, additives, and sugars that are frequently added to coffee are highly unhealthy. Garlic, in particular, has been used for centuries as a prophylactic and treatment for many diseases.
Good fatty foods. Fats You Should Eat
Some fruit juices have been shown to have health benefits despite their sugar content, such as pomegranate and blueberry juices. Some are so sweet that they could even be compared to candy. Choose breakfast cereals that are high in fiber and low in added sugar. Even better, make your own oat porridge from scratch. Frying , grilling, and broiling are among the unhealthiest cooking methods. Foods cooked in these ways are often highly palatable and calorie-dense.
Several types of unhealthy chemical compounds also form when food is cooked under high heat. These include acrylamides, acrolein, heterocyclic amines, oxysterols, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons PAHs , and advanced glycation end products AGEs 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , Many chemicals formed during high-heat cooking have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease 18 , 19 , To improve your health, choose milder and healthier cooking methods, such as boiling, stewing, blanching, and steaming.
Packaged versions are generally made with refined sugar, refined wheat flour, and added fats. Shortening , which may be high in unhealthy trans fats, is sometimes added. Whole, white potatoes are very healthy. Several studies link French fries and potato chips to weight gain 21 , These foods may also contain large amounts of acrylamides, which are carcinogenic substances that form when potatoes are fried, baked, or roasted 23 , Potatoes are best consumed boiled, not fried.
If you need something crunchy to replace potato chips, try baby carrots or nuts. About one-third of the U. Yet, people often replace healthy, gluten-containing foods with processed junk foods that happen to be gluten-free.
These gluten-free replacement products are often high in sugar and refined grains like corn starch or tapioca starch. These ingredients may trigger rapid spikes in blood sugar and are low in essential nutrients.
Choose foods that are naturally gluten-free , such as unprocessed plant and animal foods. High amounts of fructose from added sweeteners can be absolutely disastrous for health Stevia and erythritol are healthy, natural, and calorie-free alternatives. Yogurt can be incredibly healthy. Choose regular, full-fat yogurt that contains live or active cultures probiotics. If possible, buy varieties from grass-fed cows.
Low-carb diets are very popular. While you can eat plenty of whole foods on such a diet, you should watch out for processed low-carb replacement products. These include low-carb candy bars and meal replacements.
This dairy product is also high in calories and easy to overeat. Eat fruit or a piece of quality dark chocolate instead. Even though unprocessed meat can be healthy and nutritious, the same is not true for processed meats. Studies show that people who eat processed meats have a higher risk of many serious ailments, including colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease 28 , However, the statistical link is strong and consistent between studies.
Still, processed cheese products are nothing like regular cheese. Make sure to read labels to confirm that your cheese contains dairy and few artificial ingredients. Eat real cheese instead. Many vegan cheese alternatives can also be good choices. Despite their low prices, fast foods may contribute to disease risk and harm your general wellness.
You should especially watch out for fried items. As a result of mounting pressure, many fast-food chains have started offering healthy options. Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and offers many benefits. At the same time, the creamers, syrups, additives, and sugars that are frequently added to coffee are highly unhealthy. Drink plain coffee instead. You can add small amounts of heavy cream or full-fat milk if you desire. Thus, the importance of reading labels cannot be overstated.
This even applies to so-called health foods. The simplest way to eat healthy and lose weight is to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Try to load up your cart with plenty of veggies and other whole foods. Some of the antioxidants in it have potent biological activity, and can lower blood pressure and protect LDL cholesterol in the blood from becoming oxidized 14 , There are also some studies showing that dark chocolate can improve brain function, and protect your skin from damage when exposed to the sun 18 , Whole eggs used to be considered unhealthy because the yolks are high in cholesterol and fat.
However, new studies have shown that cholesterol in eggs doesn't affect the cholesterol in the blood, at least not in the majority of people Whole eggs are actually loaded with vitamins and minerals.
Eggs are also a weight loss friendly food. Despite being high in fat, people who replace a grain-based breakfast with eggs end up eating fewer calories and losing weight 25 , The best eggs are omega-3 enriched or pastured. These fish are loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, high quality proteins and all sorts of important nutrients. Studies show that people who eat fish tend to be much healthier, with a lower risk of heart disease, depression, dementia and all sorts of common diseases 27 , 28 , If you can't or won't eat fish, then taking a fish oil supplement can be useful.
Cod fish liver oil is best, it contains all the omega-3s that you need, as well as plenty of vitamin D. They are high in healthy fats and fiber , and are a good plant-based source of protein. Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier, and have a lower risk of various diseases. This includes obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes 30 , 31 , Chia seeds are generally not perceived as a "fatty" food.
This makes them an excellent high-fat plant food. These aren't just any fats either, the majority of the fats in chia seeds consists of the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid called ALA. Chia seeds may also have numerous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and having anti-inflammatory effects 33 , They are also incredibly nutritious.
In addition to being loaded with fiber and omega-3s, chia seeds are also packed with minerals. This fat is an essential component of the Mediterranean diet , which has been shown to have numerous health benefits 35 , Extra virgin olive oil contains vitamins E and K, and is loaded with powerful antioxidants. Some of these antioxidants can fight inflammation and help protect the LDL particles in the blood from becoming oxidized 37 , It has also been shown to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol markers and have all sorts of benefits related to heart disease risk Coconuts, and coconut oil , are the richest sources of saturated fat on the planet.
Even so, populations that consume large amounts of coconut do not have high levels of heart disease, and are in excellent health 40 , These fatty acids are metabolized differently, going straight to the liver where they may be turned into ketone bodies Studies show that medium-chain fats suppress appetite, helping people eat fewer calories , and can boost metabolism by up to calories per day 43 , Many studies show that these types of fats can have benefits for people with Alzheimer's, and they have also been shown to help you lose belly fat 45 , Real, full-fat yogurt is incredibly healthy.
But it's also loaded with healthy, probiotic bacteria , that can have powerful effects on your health. Studies show that yogurt can lead to major improvements in digestive health, and may even help fight heart disease and obesity 47 , 48 , Unfortunately, many of the yogurts found on store shelves are low in fat, but loaded with added sugar instead.
The ketogenic diet keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet that causes weight loss and provides numerous health benefits.
The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between - Harvard Health
It used to be that all types of dietary fat got a bad rap. Now, there are countless news stories touting the benefits of fat. The effects of different fats on health varies. And, some fats have shown to have positive health benefits. Replace foods higher in saturated fat with foods higher in unsaturated fats. 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. A general goal is for 20 percent to 35 percent of your total daily calories to come from healthy fats, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, and fewer than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats.
There are different types of omega-3 fatty acids. Much of the research with regards to human health has focused on three omega-3s. Their scientific names, which can be tongue twisters, relate to the chemical structures.
Thus, they are often referred to by three-letter acronyms:. The body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, thus you must get them through the foods you eat. Some foods and beverages are also fortified with omega-3s. For example, eggs, milk, and soy drinks may be fortified with omega-3s. However, the amount made is very limited. Thus, it is also important to get those omegas from the foods you eat. Some people may benefit from a supplement but be sure to discuss it first with a health care provider.
Swapping out monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, such as vegetable oils, for saturated fats, such as butter and lard, may help reduce cholesterol in the body. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that can build up and clog blood vessels. The narrowed or blocked blood vessels increase your risk for heart attack or stroke.
There are lots of snack options and even treats for your sweet tooth. Reviewed July Need serious help making a plan? The nutrition experts in our professional membership are ready to help you create the change to improve your life. Find an Expert. Freshly Picked. Weight for Body-Positive Thinking.