For plenty of years, people have been told that “fats are bad.” Thanks to that misconception, people spend so much time and money trying to follow low-fat diets.
They buy products labeled “low-fat,” and avoid foods that are actually healthy because of their higher fat content.
But the truth is, there are different kinds of fats found in our foods, and not all fats are created equal. So, what’s the difference?
You should try and minimize your intake of the types of fats that are considered to be more unhealthy, which includes trans fats and saturated fats.
Trans fats raise your LDL cholesterol, which is essentially bad cholesterol. They also lower your HDL cholesterol, which is the good kind that helps keep your blood vessels clear. Trans fats will increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke and are also associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
Information about saturated fats is a little less clear, though. Old research said that saturated fats were bad for your cholesterol, while newer research indicates that it might not necessarily be “bad,” but have more of a neutral effect.
In any case, the American Heart Association and the USDA Dietary Guidelines still recommend limiting your intake and replacing them with unsaturated fats.
When talking about “healthy fats,” people are usually referring to unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are healthy because they help your body absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins, protect against heart disease, and help reduce LDL cholesterol.
Monounsaturated fats are some of the healthiest fats, and when you replace unhealthy saturated fats with them, it can help lower your cholesterol.
The two main types of polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function and cell growth, and can also decrease the risk of heart disease.
Sources of Healthy Fats
If you’re hoping to increase your intake of healthy fats, here is a list of tasty foods full of healthy fats that you should add to your plate:
- Olives and Olive Oil
- Nuts Like Walnuts, Almonds, Pistachios, Cashews, and Pecans
- Sunflower Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Nut and Seed Butters
- Salmon, Tuna, and Other Oily Fish
- Edamame and Tofu