Healthy Fat: It’s Not Bad for You!
Believe it or not, fat can actually be good for you. We're certainly not telling you that it's okay to run out and gorge on a bag of potato chips; but there are "fattening" foods that your body really does crave.
Some fat is healthy and it can be very beneficial to your body.
So what do healthy fats do?
Healthy fats help control hunger. Fattening foods tend to linger in our stomach because they digest at a slower rate. Healthy fats like salmon, tuna and nuts are the good guys. They help us feel fuller, longer. These foods are a double whammy. Junk food like candy and potato chips are the bad guys.
Healthy fats help things stay on track. Here's a little known fact: healthy fat molecules are actually responsible for transporting several different vitamins and are necessary for many chemical processes in the body.
Healthy fats help protect you. Call it your internal shield. They actually help insulate and protect your vital organs. Basically, they help stop your organs from being bounced around like tennis balls.
Also, healthy fat is the key to a healthy metabolism. In addition to an adequate intake of protein and carbohydrates, your body needs fat in order to maintain a normal, steady metabolism. Healthy fats give your metabolism the boost it needs for efficient fat metabolism.
So what are the unhealthy fats?
Fats you should stay away from are saturated fat and its buddy trans-fat.
Saturated fat. This is the reason fat has such a bad reputation. This type of fat mainly comes from animal sources of food. Saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Trans fat. This is a type of fat that occurs naturally in some foods, especially foods from animals. But most trans-fats are made during food processing through partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fats. This process creates fats that are easier to cook with and less likely to spoil than are naturally occurring oils. These trans-fats are called industrial or synthetic trans-fats. Research shows that synthetic trans-fat can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Most fats that have a high percentage of saturated fat or trans-fat are solid at room temperature. Because of this, they're typically referred to as solid fats. They include beef fat, pork fat, shortening, stick margarine and butter.
More on healthy fats:
Monounsaturated fat. This type of fat is found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type-2 diabetes.
Polyunsaturated fat. This type of fat is found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) also improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. PUFAs may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. One type of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, appear to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. They may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels.
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