Good Fats vs. Bad Fats: What’s the difference?

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The good, the fat and the ugly.
Believe it or not, fat is a nutrient. Our bodies need it to store energy and to perform certain functions. But there are different types of fat. Some of them are healthy and some can be dangerous if we eat too much.

The main difference between a healthy fat and an unhealthy fat is the way it way it affects your “good” and “bad” cholesterol levels.

Saturated fat
Saturated fat is unhealthy because too much of it over time will raise your “bad” cholesterol levels. Bad cholesterol sticks to your arteries and puts you at a higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. You can usually tell if a fat is high in saturated fat if it is solid at room temperature.

For example, butter has a lot of saturated fat. Another example of saturated fat is found in meats. The fatty part of a steak might be tasty, but it’s not good for you. Clicking here brings you to a list of some other common foods that are high in saturated fat.

Trans fat
Trans fat is considered by some experts to be the worst kind because it doesn’t just raise your level of bad cholesterol — it also lowers your good cholesterol! Trans fat is found mostly in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which many food manufacturers and restaurants use to fry food. Hydrogenated vegetable oil is also used to produce margarine and the shortening found in a lot of baked goods.

Monounsaturated fat
By now you probably want to hear something that you shouldn’t avoid. Monounsaturated fats help lower your levels of bad cholesterol. Avocados, nuts, and olives are high in monounsaturated fat. Just remember to enjoy in moderation.

Polyunsaturated fat
This is the healthiest kind of fat and helps to protect against heart disease and stroke. Omega-3 is a prime example of a polyunsaturated fat. This kind of fat is found in some of your favorite fish and shellfish and may help improve your brain development and memory.

What can you do to eat healthier?
Shopping, eating and cooking consciously are the best ways to ensure your body gets the best nutrition. Make it a habit to check food labels and don’t be afraid to ask questions to a baker or your server. For more information about fats, visit heart.org.

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