It is true that there has been a bit of buzz lately about eating different types of fat. Some new research brings into question the need to avoid saturated fat. Let’s explore the types of dietary fat — the fat we eat and which are best for our health.
Saturated fat is the type of fat found in animal products including beef, chicken, pork and full fat dairy products. This type of fat can increase LDL and cholesterol.
Unsaturated fat (polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and omega 3 fatty acids) is the type of fat found in plant foods such as corn, peanuts, olives, soybean and other plant products as well as fatty fish. This type of fat can improve your cholesterol levels.
Trans fat is a fat created from the process of making a liquid oil into a solid oil through hydrogenation. You will see its presence when the ingredient lists ‘partially hydrogenated’ oil. Trans fat can not only raise the unhealthy cholesterol and LDL but also lower the good portion or HDL.
Research continues to support the need to eliminate Trans fat and therefore we are seeing more and more products become Trans fat free. It is important to select these Trans fat free products avoiding partially hydrogenated ingredients.
Most healthcare professionals recommend we decrease the overall fat intake in our diets to 20-35% of total calories with the primary source from unsaturated food products. Saturated fat should be only 7-10% of your total fat intake. Fat is essential and provides essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins that help with our body systems and promote good health. Because fat is higher in calories, too much fat intake can lead to excessive calorie intake and weight gain in addition to causing plaque formation in the arteries resulting in heart disease and stroke. These are great reasons to watch the amount and type of fat we consume.
The newest research is challenging the idea that we reduce saturated fats. At this time experts continue to recommend limiting saturated fats for overall health.
What we really need to be aware of is maintaining a balance in our diet. We shouldn’t be replacing saturated fat with refined carbohydrates which can elevate the fat content in our blood or lipids. Eating a variety of fresh foods, whole grains, plant sources of nutrients, unsaturated fat and lean protein to maintain a healthy weight will keep your body functioning optimally.