The Skinny on Saturated and Unsaturated Fats

When most of us think about trimming fat from our bodies, we think we have to cut out fat from our diets. But the truth is that fats are an important part of a healthy diet, as long as they’re right kinds of fats. Discover the three different types of fats to know which are best for your body and which are best to limit. Experts agree that there’s no need to avoid all fats forever, as long you make sure that most of the fats you eat are the healthiest forms of fats.

The Good: Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats are healthy fats that help you function and feel your best. They are mainly found in vegetables, fish, and seeds. These healthy fats are further divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated fats reduce your risk of heart disease and your body gets them from canola oil, olive oil, nuts, avocados, and olives. The other type of healthy fat is called polyunsaturated fat. These unsaturated fats can reduce your level of the bad kind of cholesterol called LDL cholesterol, while increasing your amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated healthy fats are found in salmon, walnuts, sunflower seeds, safflower oil, and corn oil. These are the fats to consume most often for the overall health of your body.

The Bad: Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are not as helpful to your body as unsaturated fats, but they’re not as harmful as trans fats. They are primarily found in butter, fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, cheese, and coconut oil. The danger of saturated fats is their ability to increase your level of bad LDL cholesterol, which can put you at a greater risk of heart disease than people who consume more unsaturated fats. To protect your health, medical experts advise limiting saturated fats to less than 10% of your daily calorie intake.

The Worst: Trans Fats

Trans fats are the least healthy fats of the three and have absolutely no health benefits. They are what most of us consider to be fats and are found in shortening, stick margarine, and all kinds of packaged foods containing partially hydrogenated oils. They are even worse for your health than saturated fats because they increase your body’s level of the bad LDL cholesterol, while decreasing your level of the good cholesterol called HDL cholesterol. These dangerous effects on your cholesterol can raise your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Medical experts strongly advise eating as few trans fats as you can.

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