What's the difference between good and bad fats?

Dear Heidi, I keep on seeing Trans Fat Free on the packaging of new foods and hearing about trans fats on the news. Then another product will claim to have the good fats in it. What are trans fats and what are the differences between a good fats and bad fats? Andrea,
Shelburne Dear Andrea, Grab the Trans Fat Free foods and feel good about it! Trans fats are a specific type of fat that are formed when liquid fats are made into solid fats by the addition of hydrogen atoms. Doing so allows the fats to be added to foods to increase shelf life. The major problem at this point in time is that the FDA does not require the listing of trans fats on nutrition labels, so most people figure that if it isnt listed, it isnt there. Thankfully, the FDA is in the final stages of solidifying a new rule that will require trans fats to be listed on packaged foods. Until that day comes, reading the ingredients on the labels of foods is your best bet to detect trans fats. Look for words like shortening or partially hydrogenated oil. As with any ingredient on a food label, the closer to the top of the list it is, the more of it is in the food. A good rule of thumb is to look for foods with an overall low fat content, which will mean that even if it does contain some of the bad fats, the overall amount should be fairly low. Dont forget to also take a look at the serving size. If there are 8 servings to a container and you ate the whole thing, you just ate 8 times the amount of fat listed. Trans fats are a double whammy when it comes to taking a toll on your health. Not only do they increase your bad, or LDL, cholesterol, but it also decreases your good, or HDL, cholesterol. In laymans terms, eating a diet that includes trans fats is a recipe for heart disease. Now to the good fats. Yes, there are such things and they basically do the opposite for your heart that the trans fats do. Monounsaturated fats (olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and avocados) and polyunsaturated fats (such as safflower, soy, sunflower, and sesame seed oils) are actually good for your heart as they help to lower the levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood when used in place of other fats. Thus, they help to lower your risk of heart disease. Another good source of good fats is fatty fish, such as salmon, albacore tuna, and sardines, which contain polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids. Another source for this nutrient are flaxseeds. These particular fats actually help to slow the formation of LDL cholesterol, thus preventing the clots that cause heart attacks. How do I incorporate these good fats into my everyday diet you ask? Simple. Use olive oil instead of butter for cooking. Eat your bread dipped in olive oil instead of butter When you buy margarine, choose a product that lists a liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient Try to incorporate a fish based dish into your diet atleast once a week Add a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to your next cookie recipe Follow these simple steps to navigating your way through the sea of fats out there and your heart will surely thank you.

Vote on this Story by clicking on the Icon


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment