Is Fat Good for You or Bad for You?

Eating fat has had a bad rap for a long time. Starting back in the 1940s, the medical community thought there was a correlation between a high-fat diet and high cholesterol. So, to lower the risk of heart disease, they promoted the idea that a low-fat diet might be a healthier plan to follow. By the time the 1960s rolled around, doctors, scientists, and others had determined that low-fat was the way to go for everyone, not just those with cardiac concerns.

The food industry accommodated to this cultural shift— there were even fat-free cookies and muffins! But guess what they did to adjust their products to make them more palatable without the fat? They loaded everything with sugar! And then this happened…

Rates of obesity started to climb—and are still on the rise. While trying to save ourselves from heart problems and promote weight loss, Americans learned to vilify fat without ever understanding that it’s not just one thing. Yes, some can be harmful to us, but other fats are super healthy—and necessary for our brains and bodies.

All dietary fats are not the same. While some are quite harmful, others are super healthy—and necessary for our brains and bodies. Click To Tweet

Bad vs. Healthy Fats

I know how confusing the fat chat can be, so to help you understand the basic differences, I’m going to break down the good, the bad, and the ugly for you here:

Trans Fats: Have you ever looked at a product label and seen some type of partially or fully hydrogenated oil as an ingredient? That’s a trans fat. These are artificially created by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, and are used to improve the taste and texture of processed foods. They’re also commonly used in the deep fryers at fast-food restaurants. These evil fats can elevate your bad cholesterol (LDL), while lowering the good kind (HDL). Plus trans fats are thought to increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. So read your labels and keep far away from them!

Saturated Fat: Known to also elevate levels of LDL—the bad cholesterol—this type comes primarily from animal products like beef, lamb, and pork as well as the skin on cooked chicken and turkey. It’s also in lard, butter, cheese, cream, and other dairy products, except for “fat-free” ones. To help keep your heart, brain, and blood vessels healthy, limit your consumption of foods with high amounts of saturated fat. If you like to eat meat, choose lean sources, like bison or poultry without the skin.

Monounsaturated Fats: They are found in vegetable oils, like olive, sunflower, sesame, and high oleic safflower, as well as in nuts and avocados. Their chemical properties can help lower your bad cholesterol. In moderation, they are known to support the cells of our bodies.

Polyunsaturated Fats: These guys provide us with omega-3 fatty acids, which our bodies don’t make, but are essential for our health. They are found in certain types of vegetable oils, but I prefer to get them from foods like:

  • Salmon, cod, and Atlantic mackerel
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Flax seeds

I’m also a fan of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), which is one of the fats found in coconut oil. Interestingly, coconut has a high level of saturated fat, but without any cholesterol. I find that the MCFAs keep my appetite in check, and they’re thought to help balance gut health. Plus, I really like the taste!

While all fat has about 9 calories per gram, it helps to sustain our energy and feelings of satiety after a meal. By avoiding the fats that can harm your health and switching to the good ones that support the function of your brain and body, you’ll do wonders in improving your overall well-being.

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 If you’re struggling and need professional help, Amen Clinics is here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

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