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health and wellness: fat facts

| Posted Friday, January 2, 2015 at 07:18AM

Blog_FatFacts_230x230Fat tends to get a bad rap when it comes to eating a healthy diet, but not all fat is bad fat. Our bodies actually need fat. Fat is important for energy, cell growth, protecting our organs, keeping our bodies warm and absorbing some nutrients, like fat-soluble vitamins.

There are four types of fat found on any nutrition label: saturated fat, trans fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. Saturated fats and trans fats tend to be solid at room temperature, while monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats tend to be liquid at room temperature.

Saturated fats and trans fats can raise LDL cholesterol levels in our bodies, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. When these fats are replaced in our diet with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, the risk is decreased. Saturated fats are found in fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, lard, cream, butter, cheese, whole milk, baked goods and fried foods. Oils high in saturated fat are palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil. Trans fats can be found in fried foods, baked goods and stick margarines. As long as a product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving, it can be labeled as 0 grams of trans fats. If the ingredients list has “partially hydrogenated oils,” then the product contains trans fats.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be liquid at room temperature. Olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, avocados, peanut butter, nuts and seeds are all good sources of monounsaturated fats. When monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are eaten in moderation, they can have positive effects on your cholesterol level, leading to a healthier heart. Foods rich in polyunsaturated fat are corn oil, salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, walnuts and sunflower seeds. Polyunsaturated fats provide omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that our bodies need but cannot produce. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease triglyceride levels, slow growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and lower blood pressure.

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