Fat has gotten a bad rap, but to tell the truth, not all fat is equal and not all fat is bad for you! Here are 5 good things about the food group we love to hate, or hate to love, or something like that.
- Fat protects our internal organs, and helps us to maintain a steady body temperature.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids are essential, meaning we must get them from the foods we eat. They can be found in cold water fatty fish, breast milk, walnuts, and some infant formulas. Omega 3s are important in the health of our cell membranes and they can reduce the risk of heart disease. One Omega 3 in particular, DHA, is extremely important in the brain development of infants and maintenance of brain tissues in adults.
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids are also essential. They help with the clotting of blood which is very important if you cut yourself by accident. These can be found in eggs, poultry and vegetable oils.
- Monounsaturated fats can reduce cholesterol levels. These fats are found in olive oil, sunflower oil, pecans, pistachios, almonds, sesame and sunflower seeds, eggs, dark chocolate, and certain cheeses (like Parmesan).
- Polyunsaturated fats also can reduce cholesterol levels. These are found in cold water fish and plant oils, such as flaxseed oil.
Fats should still be eaten sparingly and some fats should be avoided altogether. Trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils are fats that have been altered to have a longer shelf-life. They can increase LDL’s (bad cholesterol) and decrease HDL’s (good cholesterol) and increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. Trans fats are found in baked goods (read the label), margarine, and fried foods. A food label can say 0 trans fat if the food has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat. Read the ingredients list. If any of the ingredients start with “partially hydrogenated,” that’s trans fat.