Facts about Fats

Fat is a naturally occurring component in some foods. Foods like nuts, oils, butter, and some meats can have a lot of fat while most fruits and vegetables, for example, have almost no fat. The name “fat” may make it sound like something you shouldn’t eat, but the fact is that fat is an important part of a healthy diet.

Dietary fats are essential for energy and cell growth. They also help protect your organs and help keep your body warm. Fats help your body absorb some nutrients and produce important hormones too.

There are four major dietary fats in the foods we eat:

  1. saturated fats
  2. trans fats
  3. monounsaturated fats
  4. polyunsaturated fats

The four types have different chemical structures and physical properties. The bad fats, saturated and trans fats, tend to be more solid at room temperature like a stick of butter, while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be more liquid like vegetable oil.

Fats can also have different effects on the cholesterol levels in your body. The bad fats, saturated fats and trans fats, raise bad cholesterol levels in your blood. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can actually lower bad cholesterol levels and are beneficial when consumed as part of a healthy diet.

Consuming high levels of saturated or trans fats can lead to heart disease and stroke. Health experts generally recommend replacing saturated fats and trans fats with monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats – while still maintaining a nutritionally-adequate diet. Make it your goal to eat a healthy diet that emphasizes intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, non-tropical vegetable oils, and nuts; and limits intake of sodium, sweets, sugar sweetened beverages, and red meats. Doing this will mean that your diet will be low in both saturated fats and trans fats.

Read more online at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good

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