Bad Fats and Good Fats: Which is Which?
You hear a lot of confusing and conflicting information regarding bad fats and good fats. It can be hard to determine which ones are actually bad for you and which can promote good health. Many people try to restrict fat all together, but fat is a necessary and crucial part of a healthy diet. Brookhaven Heart always recommends a healthy diet as a way to minimize your risk for heart issues and promote overall good health.
Trans fats, also known as trans fatty acids, are one of the signature bad fats that can lead to cardiovascular disease. These fats are found in processed foods in order to enhance product stability and shelf life. They are also notoriously inexpensive and therefore are widely used by food manufacturers. While trans fats are naturally found in animal fat, the type contained in processed foods is artificially made. It increases blood levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and reduces HDL (good cholesterol) in the blood. This can lead to a multitude of health issues, including heart disease.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are known generally as good fats. These include nuts, seeds, Omega3s found in fish, and olive oil. These are great fats to include in your diet to improve your overall health. Omega-3s and some Omega-6s help with lowering LDL cholesterol and improving HDL cholesterol levels.
The Debate on Saturated Fat
Saturated fat was always pointed to as the culprit for high cholesterol and therefore heart disease. However, recent studies have shown that saturated fat may not play as big of a role in cardiovascular disease as once thought. Saturated fat can be found primarily in animal-derived foods, such as meat and dairy. Just like anything, moderation is key to health. Foods higher in saturated fats can be eaten as part of a heart healthy diet, along with fruits and vegetables.