Types of Dietary Fats
For most of any dieter’s life, the word ‘fat’ has been a bad word. Dieters have been warned that fats are to be avoided at all costs, and if you don’t keep them out of your diet, you are going to gain weight rather than lose. While there can be some truth to this, fats are not nearly as bad as you may have been led to believe. There are plenty of bad dietary fats that should be avoided, but there are some really good fats that your body needs to stay healthy. If you understand the difference between the types of dietary fats, you can make better choices when choosing the kinds of foods you eat.
A Brief Introduction to the Types of Dietary Fats
According to the American Heart Association, there are four different types of dietary fats. They are:
- Monounsaturated Fats
- Polyunsaturated Fats
- Saturated Fats
- Trans Fats
Below, we will discuss the fact that monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are actually part of a healthy diet, while saturated fats and trans fats should be limited or eliminated from your diet.
You Don’t Have to Avoid All Types of Dietary Fats
You may try to avoid all fats, but look at some facts before you give up fats in your diet. Since the low-fat diet fad came about in the 1960s and 70s, obesity levels in American’s have skyrocketed. Before that time, many diets were high in fats, but the levels of obesity were low. Dietary fats are good for you, but you have to eat the right ones. Processed fats were less common in the 1960s and 70s and therefore the fats in any foods were more healthy. Today, you have to read the label and understand each type of dietary fat.
Trans Fats: Types of Dietary Fats to Avoid
If you pay any attention to the news or the labels on your favorite foods, you know that trans fats are very bad for you and can contribute to stroke and heart attack. These fats are found in things like some brands of margarine, many processed foods, and some frozen foods. These fats are created by hydrogenating vegetable oils so that they are less likely to spoil. Now, many products are finding ways around using trans fats so that they are safer for your heart and your health. Trans fats taste good and prolong the shelf life of foods in the store, but they can shorten any life. If you see ‘trans fats free’ on any product you can feel better about eating it, but don’t think it means the food is ‘fat free’ – not by a long shot.
Saturated Fats Should Be Avoided, Too
Eating large amounts of saturated fats is bad for you, but they can be eaten in moderation in a healthy diet. These are found mostly in red meats, in poultry, and coconut, palm, and vegetable oils. Instead of having these often in your diet, have them once in a while. Try to find oils and foods that are either polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats. If you have plenty of these you are going to reap the health benefits of these oils and you are going to have a more flavorful diet as well.
Examples of Types of Dietary Fats That Aren’t Bad
Try soybean, corn, flaxseed, and sunflower oils, along with fish and walnuts for the benefits of polyunsaturated fats. You should get monounsaturated fats from canola, peanut, and olive oil. Also, monounsaturated fats are found in sesame and pumpkin seeds, almonds and pecans, and avocados. Through both of these healthy fats you can amino acids essential for healthy body and cell function, and you will also enjoy a lower risk of stroke and heart related conditions.
Fat Is Part of a Healthy Diet!
The bottom line is that not all fat is bad for you, and some fat is necessary for overall health. But, the key is to get the right types of dietary fats into your meal plans so that you can give your body what it needs, and so you can more easily maintain a healthy weight or even lose weight if you have to.
Experts recommend following a diet that is high in fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. Legumes, nuts, and some vegetable oils are also part of a good eating plan. And, in addition to limiting your intake of unhealthy types of dietary fat, you also want to limit the amount of sugar and sodium in your diet.
By following the right strategy, you can achieve the ideal balance of nutrients in every meal so you can look and feel great!