Know your fats!
Low fat, fat free, no-fat … we're all constantly bombarded with the message that fat is bad. However dietary fat actually plays an important role in your body's functioning and the right kind of fat, and the right amount, is actually good for you! Essential fatty acids help the body build up tissues and store energy. But how do you know which fats are good and which are not?
Saturated fats are full of hydrogen atoms, are solid at room temperature (e.g. stick margarine) and should be used sparingly. This is because these foods may increase the levels of “bad cholesterol” as well as total cholesterol.
Trans fats are formed when vegetable oils are processed and should be avoided. If you see “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “vegetable shortening” this is a sign of trans fatty acids. These fats may also raise “bad cholesterol” and lower “good cholesterol”.
The moderate consumption of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats is recommended. These fats can lower “bad cholesterol” and can be found in fish and vegetable oils such as sunflower.
Omega 3 fats
Omega 3 fats are found in some oily fish (e.g. mackerel and salmon) and scientists believe that increasing your omega-3s may significantly help your body fight chronic inflammation.
So despite the message that fats are bad, there is no need to cut fats out of your diet - simply choose the healthiest fats and enjoy them in moderation.
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