Why You Need to Distinguish Good Fat from Bad Fat
The low fat diet myth
For years, food manufacturers and the media have told us that fat is bad. So if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy diet, you may think your best bet is to eat low-fat foods. After all, if fat is bad, isn’t it better to replace foods that are high in fat with foods that are low in fat?
Not quite, and there are two reasons for this. First, foods that are marketed as “low fat” options are often high in sugar. And second, not all fats are bad.
Which fats fall into the “healthy” category? Most of them are either monounsaturated fats or polyunsaturated fats. When your body is at rest, it makes 70% of its energy by burning fat. And which sources of fat are easiest for your body to break down and convert into energy? You guessed it - monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Because your body can break down these fats so quickly, they’re easier to burn off. Eating unsaturated fats can also boost your energy, keep you feeling full, and enhance your mental health.
Here are some examples of foods that contain healthy fats:
- Unsalted nuts
- Peanut butter (made with 100% peanuts)
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
Saturated fats are usually less healthy than unsaturated fats. This is particularly true when the saturated fats come from processed sources, such as cheese and other dairy products. Why are saturated fats less healthy than their unsaturated counterparts? They take longer for your body to break down and burn.
Although saturated fats are usually considered to be a less healthy source of fat, some evidence suggests that they may be healthy in some cases. For example, some data indicates that saturated fats from minimally processed sources, such as coconut oil, may be relatively healthy.
What’s one type of fat you should definitely minimize in your diet? Trans fats. Trans fats are the most unhealthy type of fat. It takes longer for your body to break down trans fats and turn them into energy. But that’s not all. Your body also needs more energy to perform these processes, which can leave you feeling tired and hungry for more food. Eating a diet high in trans fats can also increase your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and depression.
Here are some examples of foods with unhealthy fats:
- Hydrogenated oils
- Deep-fried and battered foods
- Cakes, pies, cookies, and frosting
- Ice cream
- Frozen pizzas
- Microwave popcorn
- Microwave dinners