Healthy and Unhealthy Fats

AvocadoThere are three different types of fats that you should be familiar with when choosing healthy food options.

Saturated Fat: Saturated fats can clog your arteries and raise your blood cholesterol. Animal products, such as beef, pork, chicken, and dairy are usually high in saturated fat. The amount of saturated fat can vary from food to food. Some foods, like beef have more saturated fat than chicken or pork depending on the cut and how the meat is prepared.

Most health organizations recommend that people eat less than 10 percent of their daily total calories from saturated fat. So, if you eat 2,000 calores per day, then you should only consume 200 of those calories from saturated fat. Each gram of saturated fat is equal to 9 calories.

Trans fats: If you haven't heard the news over the past several years, trans fats are very bad for the body. These fats are more harmful than saturated fats because they are often chemically made and unstable when cooked. Many processed foods are made with trans fats. Even foods that you might consider “healthy,” like granola and breads are often made with harmful trans fats. You can identify these fats by checking food labels for the words hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated.

Unsaturated fats: These types of fats may actually be beneficial to the body and are often found in nuts, seeds and certain fruits. For example:
-Flaxseed oils
-Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel
-Nuts and seeds
-Natural peanuts
-Olives and olive oil

There are two categories of unsaturated fats- mono and poly. Monounsaturated fats have been found to be helpful at protecting against heart disease by reducing bad cholesterol levels without affecting the good cholesterol levels.

Generally, health organizations recommend that people consume less than 30 percent of their calories from fat. So, if you eat a 2,000 calorie diet, you should only consume 66 grams of fat each day. Preferably most of these grams will come from unsaturated fats.