Which fats are good, which are bad, and why?
Adding more fat to the diet can be confusing at first. Which ones are bad and which are essential for good health? Read more to find out about the Good, the Bad and the In-between of dietary fats.
Essential Fatty Acids, aka Omega-3’s are called ‘Essential’ because our bodies cannot make them, they need to come from our diet. They can be found in plant foods like flax seed oil, olive oil, nuts and avocados. However, the most important Omega-3 components DHA and EPA, are found primarily in Fish Oils. These are particularly important for keeping our body healthy; they reduce inflammation and keep our brains, hearts and blood vessels healthy, and also help protect us from depression and Alzheimer’s. We can only convert small amounts of the plant source Omega-3 into DHA and EPA so it is a good idea to use both plant and fish or fish oil supplement sources of Omega-3.
Trans fats are considered the worst fat you can eat as they raise your ‘bad’ cholesterol and lower your ‘good’ which can increase the risk of heart disease and inflammatory conditions. Most trans fats are made from oils that are converted to a solid form through a processing method called partial hydrogenation. Foods containing trans fats are more stable, so they have a greater shelf-life. A great way to decrease trans-fat intake is by reading ingredient lists and avoiding foods containing “partially hydrogenated” ingredients; it’s code for trans-fat! Common foods containing partially hydrogenated oils are fried foods, commercially baked goods, some margarines and fried takeaway foods.
The In-between - Saturated fat
This is a fat that is solid at room temperature, such as butter or coconut oil. It is also a component of every cell membrane, which means some saturated fat is needed by the body. It has been shown to be beneficial for liver function, immunity, and hormone production.
There is now sufficient evidence from recent studies to show that saturated fat does not increase the risk of heart disease.
In conclusion, saturated fat in moderation is okay - especially from butter and coconut oil.