There’s no reason to fear fats. Knowing the different fats and how much of them to eat will help you make smarter food choices. Just as you get more health benefits from eating a variety of fruits and veggies, consuming different healthy fats can do the same. Mix up your healthy fat sources and treat yourself to a little variety. Don’t always reach for corn oil when cooking; give peanut oil a shot. If your go-to snack is almonds, try walnuts instead. Keep in mind the portion of saturated fat making up total fat grams.
THE “BAD” FATS TRUTH:
Saturated fats tend to raise total blood cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. But a lot of researches indicate that different types of saturated fats have different effects. Coconut oil sales have sky-rocketed, but it’s not necessarily a safe choice. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a medium-chain saturated fatty acid that lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL (good) cholesterol. But coconut oil, as well as palm oil, also contains palmitic acid, which promotes the unsafe buildup of plaque in arteries. Stearic acid, saturated fat found in dark chocolate, appears to have a neutral effect on cardiovascular risk—it doesn’t raise LDL, but it doesn’t decrease it either. Saturated fats are found in foods that are hard at room temperatures, such as cheeses, meats, and butter, and should be eaten in small portions.
Trans fats result from the hydrogenation (hardening) of unsaturated fatty acids. Artificial trans fats are commonly found in processed foods. Small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats can be found in meats and dairy products. Trans fats don’t act like unsaturated fats in the body; instead, they increase LDL and total cholesterol and may even reduce HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), that is bad news though. Furthermore, so many countries are banning food manufacturers from using artificial trans fats (also called partially hydrogenated oils). Until then: It’s best to avoid or keep to a minimum.