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What's the difference between 'good' and 'bad' fats?
Many people hear the word 'fat' and instantly think food is unhealthy. This really isn't the case. Believe it or not there are actually some good fats that it can be beneficial to add to your diet.
Cutting out all fat from your diet isn't the way to go about losing weight or eating more healthily. We all need some form of fat in our diet in order to keep our bodies running at the optimum level. It is having too much of the 'bad' fats that causes problems, so it is important to ensure you understand which fats should be part of your diet.
Fats not only serve to provide energy, they actually help to deliver vitamins to your body, keep skin soft and supple and also provide you with fatty acids. However, bad fats can lead to clogged arteries, obesity and a whole range of health issues.
Saturated fat is classed as a bad fat. According to the British Dietetic Association, many people in the UK are eating too much saturated fat, which puts them at risk for problematic health.
Eating large amounts of this type of fat can lead to a build-up of cholesterol in your system. This then increases the chance of heart attack and stroke, as the cholesterol can lead to blocked arteries.
Saturated fats are found in high amounts within a number of foods, but most notably they are in dairy products, fatty cuts of meat, cakes, pastries and chocolate. Some of these foods also contain high levels of sugar, which can also lead to poor health.
Trans fats also increase cholesterol levels and are found in many foods. They are common in animal-produced foods and within hydrogenated vegetable oil - which must be declared on any ingredients list.
However, most people in the UK don't eat that many trans fats, especially as many food brands have got rid of hydrogenated vegetable oil from their products, making food a bit healthier. This means that the 'bad' fat you want to cut down on is saturated.
Good fats in your diet can help to cut down on the levels of bad cholesterol in your body, helping to make you healthier and avoid any severe problems - such as heart attacks. Unsaturated fats are classed as good, especially as they contain high levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Omega-3 oils help the body in a number of ways, including helping your heart to maintain a regular rhythm, stop blood clotting and lower bad cholesterol levels.
You can find unsaturated fats in nuts and seeds, oily fish - such as salmon and mackerel - some fruits and vegetables - like avocados - and within olive and sunflower oils. These can be used to replace foods in your diet that contain saturated fats.
Get the balance right
In order to get the most out of cutting down your bad fat intake, aim to get rid of saturated and trans fats. Read ingredient lists and avoid foods that have high levels of hydrogenated vegetable oils or saturated fats.
Instead, eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats, which help to provide energy and other benefits without coming with the problematic health issues.