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Know Your Fats: Healthy vs. Unhealthy

There are a variety of fats in the foods we eat, and some are better than others. Of these varieties, there are four major types of fats:

  • Monounsaturated Fats
  • Polyunsaturated Fats
  • Saturated Fats
  • Trans Fats

Healthy fats are known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats and trans fats are less healthy.

Consuming monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart and overall health. These fats are usually liquid at room temperature. They also contain Omega-3 fatty acids that may improve heart health. You can find Omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish including salmon and tuna, flaxseed and nuts and seeds.

Sources of monounsaturated fats

  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Avocados

Sources of polyunsaturated fats

  • Walnuts
  • Fatty fish
  • Seeds
  • Soy milk
  • Tofu

Unhealthy fats are classified as saturated fats and trans fats. These fats increase cholesterol levels and can be harmful to heart health. Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature, but can also be found in liquid form in coconut oils. It is recommended that intake of trans fats should be completely avoided.

Sources of saturated fats

  • High fats meats (beef, pork, lamb)
  • Butter or lard
  • Chicken with skin
  • Coconut oil
  • Ice cream
  • Sources of trans fats
  • Cookies, doughnuts, cakes, candy, etc.
  • Margarine
  • Fried foods

Tips to limit unhealthy fat

  1. Read food labels
  2. Avoid fried foods and large amounts of processed snacks and desserts
  3. Limit intake of fast food
  4. Prepare meals using olive or canola oil
  5. Be aware that all fats contain calories, so even the healthier fats should be consumed in moderation