Voilà! The secret behind a healthy heart and balanced nutrition
is understanding the difference between "good" and "bad" fats
FAT. YOU WANT TO EAT LESS OF IT, maybe even
eliminate it from your diet. But while it gets a bad rap, some
types of fat are actually good for you.
Fat can be categorized as saturated, unsaturated or trans. The
more saturated a fat is, the more unhealthy it is. Dawn Jackson
Blatner, R.D., a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association,
says there is a simple trick to remembering the fat facts-one you
really have to see to believe.
"The more saturated [bad] the fat is, the more solid it is at
room temperature," Jackson Blatner says. "That is a great, simple
way to tell if the fat you are about to eat is healthy."
The Good ...
Healthy fats fall into two categories: monounsaturated and
polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats include olive, canola and
peanut oils. You'll also find large concentrations in avocados and
most nuts, which have been shown to lower the risk of coronary
Two classes of polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 and omega-6
fatty acids. Omega-3s are found in such foods as salmon, walnuts
and flaxseed. "Omega-3s are important for your heart," Jackson
Blatner says. "They are a source of energy and provide nutrients
that help regulate your blood pressure, heart rate and nervous
According to research, healthy omega-6 fats- found in
nonhydrogenated vegetable and seed oils (safflower and sunflower
oils, for example) and whole grains-may help improve rheumatoid
arthritis and skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema.
... and the Bad
Unhealthy fats include saturated animal fats, found in butter,
whole-milk dairy products and red meat, and man-made fats in
margarine and shortening.
Trans fat is formed when liquid oils are turned into solid fats
during manufacturing. The consumption of saturated fat and trans
fat raises low-density lipoprotein ("bad" cholesterol) levels and
increases the risk of coronary heart disease.
Remember, all fats can be troublesome if you're trying to lose
weight because they pack 9 calories per gram. But just as with most
"bad" foods, moderation is key. Incorporating a healthy amount of
good fats in your diet can help keep your heart healthy.
-By Jen Bondeson