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Why Fats Are Important In Your Diet

Posted Dec 17 2009 6:14am
healthy fatsWould all of our weight loss problems be solved if we just eliminated fat from our diets?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. We actually need fats — can’t live without them, in fact.
Fats are an important part of a healthy diet: They provide essential fatty acids, keep our skin soft, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, and are a great source of energizing fuel.
Good Fats vs. Bad Fats
Basically, there are two groups of fats: saturated and unsaturated. Within each group are several more types of fats.
Let’s start with the good guys — the unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. Both mono- and polyunsaturated fats, when eaten in moderation and used to replace saturated or trans fats, can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Polyunsaturated fats, found mostly in vegetable oils, help lower both blood cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels — especially when you substitute them for saturated fats. One type of polyunsaturated fat is omega-3 fatty acids, whose potential heart-health benefits have gotten a lot of attention.
“Plant sources are a good substitute for saturated or trans fats, but they are not as effective as fatty fish in decreasing cardiovascular disease!
The other “good guy” unsaturated fats are monounsaturated fats, thought to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but solidify if refrigerated. These heart-healthy fats are typically a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, a nutrient often lacking in American diets. They can be found in olives; avocados; hazelnuts; almonds; Brazil nuts; cashews; sesame seeds; pumpkin seeds; and olive, canola, and peanut oils.


The ‘Bad’ Fats in Your Diet

Now on to the bad guys. There are two types of fat that should be eaten sparingly: saturated and trans fatty acids. Both can raise cholesterol levels, clog arteries, and increase the risk for heart disease.
Saturated fats are found in animal products (meat, poultry skin, high-fat dairy, and eggs) and in vegetable fats that are liquid at room temperature, such as coconut and palm oils.

Here are more tips to help you reduce the total amount of fat in your diet and make sure the fats you consume are the healthy ones:
·         Choose a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
·         Try a vegetarian meal, with plenty of beans, once a week.
·         Select dairy products that are skim or low-fat.
·         Experiment with light and reduced-fat salad dressings.
·         Replace fattier sauces with vinegars, mustards, and lemon juice.
·         Try to use unsaturated liquid oils, such as canola or olive, instead of butter or partially hydrogenated margarine.
·         Limit your consumption of high-fat foods, such as processed foods, fried foods, sweets, and desserts.

And remember: those who are trying to lose weight actually need fat in higher doses in their system so as to build the muscle and lose weight!

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