Fat in the diet: what is good and what is bad

Some fats should be part of your diet. But you need to make sure you eat good fats instead of bad fats.

Your body uses fat for energy. Fats build nerve tissue, hormones and control inflammation. Good fats help your body absorb vitamins A, D, E and K from the foods you eat. They provide health benefits and can reduce the risk of disease.

Eating too much fat can lead to obesity. Fatty calories are converted into body fat more easily than carbohydrates or proteins. They can also confuse your appetite so that you can’t tell when you’re full. Bad fats increase total cholesterol and blood pressure. They can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

The road to better health

All people have different caloric needs. Your doctor can help you calculate how many calories a day you need. This will help you figure out how many grams of fat you can consume. If you are overweight, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that you get less than 30% of your total daily calories from fat. This equates to 65 grams of fat for a 2000 calorie diet.

“bad” fats

Saturated and trans fats are bad for you. Less than 7% of your total daily calories should come from saturated fat. Of this percentage, less than 1% should come from trans fats. In a daily diet with 2000 calories, this is less than 15 grams of saturated fat and less than 2 grams of trans fat.

Saturated fats are They occur naturally in some animal products. This includes meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products such as cheese, cream and whole milk. Palm, coconut and other tropical oils, as well as cocoa butter, contain saturated fats.

trans fat They are formed when liquid oils are converted into solid fats. This process is called hydrogenation. Trans fats are found in many processed foods. All food companies must indicate trans fats on nutrition labels. However, foods can contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving and still show 0 grams. Check the list of ingredients and look for the words “hydrogenated oil”.

You need to limit saturated fats and avoid trans fats. They are often found in fast food, fried foods and snacks. They can also be in desserts and commercial pastries. These bad fats increase the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. They lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

“good” fats

Replace bad fats with good fats. Studies show that good fats can help lower total cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids have good health benefits. They can reduce the risk of heart attack and inflammation.

monounsaturated fats they are found in rapeseed, olive and peanut oils. They are found in various oils and walnut oils. Avocados, legumes (beans and peas) and seeds also contain these fats.

polyunsaturated fats they are found in vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower and saffron oil. They are found in soybeans, legumes, cereals and nuts. Various seeds, such as sesame and sunflower, also contain these fats.

Omega-3 fatty acids They are usually found in fish and mussels. These include salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel. Flaxseed, flaxseed oil and nuts also contain omega-3s.

Aspects to be considered

You do not need to eliminate all fats from your diet. However, you need to limit the amount of fat you eat. There are 9 calories in every gram of fat. That’s more than twice the calories in carbohydrates and protein. Each has 4 calories per gram.

Try to eat foods that contain unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid foods high in saturated fat and trans fats.

Other tips include:

  • Avoid fast food. It almost always contains trans fats.
  • Avoid fried foods.
  • Limit the amount of red meat you eat. Instead, eat fish, poultry and plant proteins.
  • Use rapeseed oil when baking.
  • Use olive oil when cooking. You can also use it instead of salad dressing and as a spread on bread.
  • Choose healthier snacks. For example, eat a small handful of unsalted peanuts or edamame (soybeans) instead of potato chips.
  • Try a slice of avocado on your sandwich or salad. Walnuts and chickpeas are also good in salads.
  • Use liquid or soft margarine instead of butter. Look for margarine that is low in saturated fat and free of trans fats.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What percentage of fat should I eat if I am trying to lose weight?
  • Do I need to take an omega-3 supplement to get more of the good fats?

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Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians

This information provides an overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and for more information on this topic.

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