Good and Bad Fats Explained

Did you know that there are many types of fats? Most people think of fat as being bad, but the truth is that fat is vital to a healthy body. Understanding the different types of fats will help you to be smart with the food you eat.

What You Need to Know About Fats

The human body turns calories into fat, but it also uses the fat that is found in plants and animal meats. Your body NEEDS dietary fat in order to be healthy, as fat plays a role in the function of your organs, protection for your body's cells, production of hormones, and so much more. Just as with carbs and protein, if you don't have fat, you won't have a healthy body.

Fat is necessary, but it's also dangerous when consumed in high quantities. Fat contains more than twice the number of calories contained in protein and carbs, and it's absorbed much more slowly. Small amounts of fat can add up, and you will find that weight gain is likely if you overdo it on the fat. Of course, everyone knows that gaining too much weight is bad for your health, but fat can also cause problems beyond weight gain.

When you eat a lot of fat, some of that fat is turned into cholesterol. The cholesterol clogs up your arteries, leading to serious problems with your circulatory system. Fat can also cause problems like heart disease and diabetes, and may even play a part in the development of more serious diseases like cancer.

There are five basic types of fat:

Trans Fat

This is the kind of fat that is produced when food is fried or deep fried in oil. There are a very few foods that contain trans fats naturally, but for the most part oily foods are the source of these fats. When oil is hydrogenated, it is easier to cook with, but it's also richer in trans fats. These trans fats can lead to high levels of the bad cholesterol, lower levels of the good cholesterol, and can increase your risk of heart problems.

Saturated Fat

This is a kind of fat that is naturally found in red meat, chicken, and all regular dairy products. It's animal fat in essence, and it is known to raise levels of bad cholesterol in your blood. This type of fat isn't as harmful for you as trans fats, so you can eat a bit more of it without worrying. However, consuming too much of this fat is bad for you.

Monounsaturated Fat

This type of fat is found in a lot of different plant foods and natural oils, including olive oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil. These fats can improve your cholesterol levels, and will reduce your risk of heart problems. It can also promote healthy blood sugar control.

Polyunsaturated Fat

This type of fat may not be as common as monounsaturated fats, but it's found in many of the same sources. It's also excellent for lowering your cholesterol levels, and can help to prevent and fight off heart disease, diabetes, and other fat-related problems.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

This type of fat is actually a sub-type of polyunsaturated fats, but you'll find that it's one of the healthiest fats around. It is particularly useful for both your brain and your heart, and it can help to fight off both heart disease, Alzheimer's, and inflammation. There are a few plant sources of Omega-3, but the best source of this fatty acid is fish--particularly salmon and the many other fatty fish.

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