Not all fats cause heart disease, nor are they inherently bad. In fact, most fats, when eaten within reason, help normal bodily functions. Without this becoming a biology lesson, here is a breakdown of the terms you should know a little about.
In short summary, avoid the trans fats, limit the saturated fats, and replace both with essential polyunsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated fat is a liquid at room temperature and can help lower the level of “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood. There are two types of polyunsaturated fatty acids: omega-6 and omega-3.
Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in liquid vegetable oils, such as corn oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil.
Omega-3 fatty acids come from plant sources—including canola oil, flaxseed, soybean oil, and walnuts—and from fish and shellfish.
Some types of omega-3 and omega-6 fats cannot be made by your body, which means it’s essential to include small amounts of them in your diet.
As a result, it’s recommended to have more omega-3 by eating at least 2 portions of fish each week, with 1 portion being an oily fish.
Vegetable sources of omega-3 fats are not thought to have the same benefits on heart health as those found in fish.
Monounsaturated fats help protect your heart by maintaining levels of “good” HDL cholesterol whilst also reducing levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood.
Monounsaturated fat is a type of fat found in avocados, canola oil, nuts, olives (& olive oil), and seeds. Eating food that has more monounsaturated fat (or “healthy fat”) instead of saturated fat (like butter) can help lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk.
However, monounsaturated fat has the same number of calories as other types of fat and can contribute to weight gain if too much of it is eaten.
Saturated fat is a type of fat that is solid at room temperature and can be found in foods both sweet and savoury. It is most often found in full-fat dairy products (like butter, cheese, cream, regular ice cream, and whole milk), coconut oil, lard, palm oil, ready-to-eat meats, and the skin and fat of chicken and turkey, among other foods.
Saturated fats have the same number of calories as other types of fat, and may contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess. Eating a diet high in saturated fat also raises blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
Trans fat is a type of fat that is created when liquid oils are converted into solid fats. It makes them last longer without going bad.
Trans fats are found naturally at low levels in some foods, such as meat and dairy products, however, they can also be found in crackers, cookies, and snack foods. Trans fats, like saturated fats, raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower your HDL (good) cholesterol.
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